Cocaine Cowbys

Cocaine Cowboys” is a documentary covering the illegal drug rings busted up in 1980’s Miami. The film tells the story of drug runners Mickey Munday and Jon Roberts, enforcer Jorge “Rivi” Ayala, and the Godmother, Griselda Blanco. Miami, and the rest of the country, seemed to turn a blind eye to their activities until blood starting puring into the streets through the ruthless crimes committed by people like Rivi. The film tells the stories of how innocent children were murdered at the order of Griselda, but it leaves out how the Latin American nations were affected by the drug wars and how the United States helped fuel part of the drug war. 

The United States has had a long policy of promoting democracy throughout the world. During the 1980’s, the United States helped fund a group knows as the “Contras” in Nicaragua. They opposed the military rule in the region and found support in the United States Government. Oliver North, a top ranking U.S. military official, was one of the most involved U.S. officials in funding the Contras. Government documents, taken from the link “Did the U.S. Sell Cocaine in the 1980’s?,” show North used various drug smuggling outfits to help fund the Contras. One of the largest examples is known as the Iran- Contra scandal. Talked about briefly in the film, the U.S. government sold weapons to a terrorist group in Iran for the release of several U.S. hostages. The government documents show that some of these funds were used to help fund the Contras and General Noriega in Nicaragua.  

An article by Coletta Youngers explains the effects these U.S. policies had on the people of these Latin American countries. Youngers writes, “drug trafficking in the Andes breeds criminality, exacerbates political violence, and hence greatly increases problems of citizen security.” Youngers believes that the U.S. policy of funding local military and police forces to defeat the war on drugs has been ineffective and lead to multiple human rights violations. She gives examples of countries like Colombia, Peru, and other countries where the U.S. has funded counterinsurgency campaigns that have only lead to the killings of tons of people. She also writes that these U.S. polices have only increased the amount of cocaine production in countries like Colombia and Bolivia. The millions of tax dollars sent to these countries each year seems to be a lost since it has only lead to the deaths of many and even increased the drug production in these countries. 

“Cocaine Cowboys” does a great job of describing the effects of the drug war in 1980’s Miami. However, it only gives us a glimpse of how it affected the countries like Colombia and Nicaragua. Miami eventually recovered from drug war and even benefited from the tons of cash it brought to the city, but the Latin American countries were adversely affected by the U.S. policies to combat the drug war. The question of how we should deal with these drug cartels is a question we are still facing today. Most people do not want their cities to turn into the Miami of the 1980’s, but how we deal with these other countries is something we should look at. Promoting democracy throughout the world is something most American’s would see as a noble cause, but at what cost should we continue to fund groups that seem as corrupt as the governments they claim to oppose?