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Implications of Colombian Drug Industry and Death Squad Political Violence for US Counternarcotics Policy

NCJ Number
K J Riley
Date Published
67 pages
This study analyzes the effect of drug industry and death squad political violence on Colombia, and the consequences for U.S. counternarcotics policy.
Drug-related violence and death squad murders, which are often organized and financed by the drug trade, pose a grave threat to the political system in Colombia. Analysis of the political violence in Colombia shows that combined the two groups have the ability to terrorize the entire spectrum of the Colombian political system, from the local to the national level, from peasant farmers to the Office of the President. Additionally, the data used to analyze the violence show that patterns of political violence change in response to government policies. The pattern of political violence poses a problem to U.S. counternarcotics policy on Colombia. Existing U.S.-supported and Colombian counternarcotics programs not only do not reduce the amount of cocaine produced, they can contribute to increases in the level of drug-related political violence. A more effective strategy would be to focus U.S. policy on longer-term objectives, such as maintaining democratic institutions in Colombia, and secondary counternarcotics objectives, such as strengthening the Colombian political system's ability to address violence. Footnotes, figures, tables, bibliography