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The intimate relationship between narcotrafficking and the State

american_gangster_1.jpgHugo Chávez needs the FARC for his carom shot on the great Bolivarian homeland table, which includes Colombian territory. Álvaro Uribe has reasons to confront Chávez and to line up behind him the national unit of Colombians that are being held in check and offended from both the inside and the outside. Washington backs Uribe, its main ally in South America, but it is in need of a Chávez that will guarantee that, at the end of the day, Venezuelan oil finds its way to the American gas pumps and tanks.

(From Buenos Aires) AS IT IS KNOWN, Hollywood tends to explain Washington best, and sometimes there is nothing better than a good American film to help understand the complex drama that is woven into the warp of the relationship between the United States and the world. In this case, American Gangster [1], Ridley Scott’s notable film that stars Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe, and is being shown in major cities all over the world, can serve as an example.

It tells the true story (albeit with fictional touches) of Frank Lucas, a black boy from Harlem who, towards the end of the 60s, came to be a prosperous member of the New York mob by controlling the Vietnamese heroin trafficking business. “American Gangster reveals itself to be an extraordinary documentary for us, because it explains the origins of the much more current wars and conflicts” The background of the story is the intimate relationship between the narcotrafficking and the State, between crime and the law that fights it, between the war (always justified with moral principles and categories) and the territorial struggles for resources and the opening of markets (supported in pure and raw interests); between the dangling carrot that makes the donkey walk and the stick that controls it.

This is how the Vietnam War comes to be an incentive to trace the routes of the profitable drug ring. And the instrument that permits this to happen is the American army itself, whose planes carry soldiers and arms to the faraway battles of Southeast Asia, and in return bring back coffins and camouflaged boxes with tons of heroin. “What on one hand involves games of confrontation and antagonism, involves on the other hand simultaneous games of collusion of interests among opposing players, but with reciprocal benefits” Meanwhile, the magic dust, distributed in massive doses for its wholesale and retail marketing, will yield substantial earnings and will be of irresistible appeal to the eyes and pockets of the police, businessmen, politicians and judges. It will be a source of profit, social ascendance and economic dynamism for some, and dependence, sickness, corruption and stagnation for others.

This is how American Gangster reveals itself to be an extraordinary documentary for us, because it explains the origins of the much more current wars and conflicts, like those in Afghanistan and Iraq and, particularly now, Colombia and Venezuela, regarding the FARC [2] hostage crisis and the increase in opposition to the presidents Álvaro Uribe [3] and Hugo Chávez [4].

THE FLOW OF RELATIONS

The interests that are involved here transcend all Manichaean simplification and force the revision of schematic explanations, such as the one that attempts to reduce the matter to a fight between representatives of the law and criminal hit men (which it also is, of course, but it is not quite as simple as that).

There is an intense triangular and parallel flow of relations between the United States, Colombia, and Venezuela in existence. Included in the flow are diplomatic relations (open and clandestine); commercial relations (licit and illicit); and military and strategic relations (explicit and implicit). “The American contribution to the denominated Colombia Plan to fight narcotrafficking is estimated to be in the range of 500 million dollars annually, a figure similar to what the trafficking brings in as regalia for the exportation of cocaine to the North” They are agonistic games of cooperation and conflict: certain conflicts and clashes are promoted so as to get the most out of them.

What on one hand involves games of confrontation and antagonism, involves on the other hand simultaneous games of collusion of interests among opposing players, but with reciprocal benefits: I need you to finance my battles and obtain support against you. Hugo Chávez needs the FARC for his carom shot on the great Bolivarian homeland table, which includes Colombian territory. Álvaro Uribe has reasons to confront Chávez and to line up behind him the national unit of Colombians that are being held in check and offended from both the inside and the outside. Washington backs Uribe, its main ally in South America, but it is in need of a Chávez that will guarantee that, at the end of the day, Venezuelan oil finds its way to the American gas pumps and tanks.

And one more thing: the American contribution to the denominated Colombia Plan [5] to fight narcotrafficking is estimated to be in the range of 500 million dollars annually, a rough figure similar (according to what the specialists indicate) to what the trafficking brings in as regalia for the exportation of cocaine to the North, including the American consumers.

CLARA ROJAS AND CONSUELO GONZÁLEZ

In the last few weeks, however, something different has occurred. Another story has arisen, that of Clara Rojas and Consuelo González, hostages liberated along with Emmanuel, the son of the former who was born in captivity. These are the greatest points of reference for an international movement to demand freedom for the hundreds of kidnapped people in the FARC’s hands.

Perhaps this is the beginning of another chapter in which the mobilized civil societies are those that impose the terms and conditions, with the men of war, the drug barons and their henchmen and watchmen taking part in it no more.