Cocaine Cowboys, History 475 Week 13

The documentary Cocaine Cowboys deals with the cocaine drug trade which stretched from Miami to Columbia in the 1980s. This documentary presented the life of a drug trader as glamorous and high style initially. Only when things began to turn sour for the actors in the trade did things become dangerous. This depiction is inconsistent with depictions shown in other films we have already seen in this class. Besides the clear issue presented with the drug trade, another interesting issue is presented this week. That is the issue of government policy and intervention.

In the films we have seen in this class so far, it is apparent that the police force in many Latin American Countries is sometimes corrupt or ill trained or just plain bad. Knowing that provides insight into why the United States developed certain policies to deal with the drug trade coming into the country from Latin America. Coletta Younger describes the United States as the number one consumer of illicit drugs in the world. This is clearly an issue for the U.S. and therefore policy makers must deal with it. Younger outlines the U.S. policy and states that “through its drug policy, the United States has formed unholy alliances with militaries that have deplorable human rights records” (127). In trying to combat a domestic issue, the United States has taken measures which endanger lives for people in countries abroad. It is a daunting task to deal with this drug trade and is obviously difficult, but these policies used by the U.S., in supplying the Latin America militaries, enable these institutions to use policies which hinder the civil rights of its people.

The National Security Archive reveals that the CIA had knowledge about the drug trade but for political reasons it was overlooked. It can be argued that this shows corruption in the American government just as previous films have shown the corruption in Latin America. Clear issues were overlooked to fulfill an agenda. The documentary showed the violence and murderous nature exhibited by the drug traders in Miami, and very vaguely discussed the connection with Latin America. What it did reveal is that the revenue brought in with the drugs helped bring Miami out of a slump and put it on the map as a ‘real vacation’ spot in Florida.

All of these are interesting issues presented about the drug trade. The resulting economic success of Miami, the knowledge about the drug trade by the CIA, and policy makers attempts to deal with it in Latin America show the vastness and difficulty of the trade. What the film failed to do was show the intricate and deep connection America had with Latin America through this trade. The article do reveal this relationship, and show how each is dependent on the other in order for the trade to thrive. It is clear with the documentary and readings that this is an issue with no easy solution.