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Myth of the Narco-Guerrillas

NCJ Number
Nation Volume: 247 Issue: 4 Dated: (August 13/20, 1988) Pages: 129-134
M Collett
Date Published
6 pages
This article examines the validity of the concept of drug traffickers as so-called narcoguerrillas and their activities as narcoterrorism.
In March 1984, after Colombian police seized 27,500 pounds of pure cocaine from a jungle drug complex, the US Ambassador to Colombia announced that the complex had been protected by Communist rebels he described as narcoguerrillas. Although there were in fact no Communists at the complex and no guerrillas, the term narcoguerrilla and the concept of narcoterrorism was subsequently used by other American government officials when discussing drug trafficking and drug-related activities. The language reflects a vision of the United States besieged by foreign devils, but obscures the essential difference between drug traffickers and Marxist insurgents: top traffickers are hugely successful capitalists bent on boosting their earnings and their social status; Marxist rebels want to overthrow capitalism altogether. These contradictory objectives explain why guerrillas and traffickers are killing each other in Peru and Colombia. The narcoguerrilla notion ignores not only these realities but the political impact of Latin America's exploding drug industry, which has jolted regional economies.