cocaine - LAST101-04 Term Paper The cocaine trade in...

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LAST101-04 Term Paper The cocaine trade in Colombia has resulted in a crumbling economy characterized by violence and a decrease in legitimate markets. Violence is largely the backlash from paramilitary and guerrilla groups, as well as drug lords. Numerous attempts have been made by the U.S. to curb and eventually eliminate the exportation and production of cocaine, most of which are controversial. This paper outlines the history and development of the drug trade and the correlating non-governmental groups. In addition, current policies are explained and evaluated. To fully understand the current situation in Colombia, it is necessary to illustrate the history of the country which provides the setting for the “largest conflict in the Western Hemisphere” (Rojas 1). In the 1990s, Colombia’s population surpassed that of Argentina, rendering it third highest population in Latin America (Chasteen 306). Beginning in the 1940s, Colombia was plagued by a period of violence, entitled La Violencia , that lasted through the 1950s (Chasteen 306). Peace was never achieved after this point, and by the late 1970s Colombia’s violent death rate was precedent-setting for a non-warring country (Chasteen 307). Colombia’s incredibly weak political institutions made its illegal drug trade possible (Rojas 28). The easily-attained profits of drug traffickers allowed them to create and support paramilitary groups, as well as bribe politicians (Rojas 29). The Colombian city of Medellin can be considered Pablo Escobar’s version of Al Capone’s Chicago (Chasteen 307). Anyhow, one such paramilitary organization is the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). Although the FARC was founded well before a drug trade, it is now deeply embedded in drug activities. Comprised of 20,000 men, the FARC guerrilla army used their power to tax peasant farmers and also protect assets of trafficking organizations, 1
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LAST101-04 Term Paper such as laboratories, landing strips, and crops, for considerable fees (Rojas 29). In fact, paramilitaries are considered the worst abusers of human rights in Colombia (Rojas 33). In response to the FARC, President Pastrana agreed to a demilitarized zone in which to conduct peace talks. This zona de despeje was largely viewed as a surrender of the government to the FARC. Rightfully so, as the FARC continued to commit atrocities, train troops, exploit coca farmers of the area, threaten local authorities, detain innocent civilians, recruit children by force and so on, all within the demilitarized zone (Rojas 31). Aside from drug-related profits, the FARC relied rather heavily on monies gained from kidnapping ransoms. Colombia accounts for half of all the world’s reported kidnappings (Rojas 153). For example, in March of 1998, guerrillas killed 63 troops and kidnapped 43 people (Otis “U.S. denies”). Consequently, many Colombians fled to the United States and peace efforts made by Pastrana were severely harmed (Rojas 35). Fleeing Colombia was not a new notion: 1.7 million Colombians were displaced from 1985-2000
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cocaine - LAST101-04 Term Paper The cocaine trade in...

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