Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Tony and Soil-Ride/Josh)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Feb 25 19:54:09 MST 2001

Re: Colombian Narco-Guerrillas? About Josh’s question, and Tony’s reply.

First, I would like to very strongly agree with Tony’s two point program:

"I believe that what is needed is two pronged. 1) To build a national
movement against US interventionism in Colombia and other South American
countries. 2) To build a movement to de-criminalize US drug use, and to
support amnesty for the victims of this war that remain incarcerated. It is
a key part of this, to vocally demand de-criminalization of drugs, and drug

The "war on drugs" is not, and never was, a war against drug abuse. It is,
and always was, a war against the working class in the United States -
conveniently linked to a war against the independence of countries to the
south of the United States: notably Colombia and Mexico, but also Haiti,
Peru, Bolivia, Cuba, and others.

The significance of George W. Bush’s plan to "regionalize" ‘Plan Colombia
lies in this.

The "war on drugs" is not, and never was, a war against drug dealers. An
aspect of it is, and always was, a war against certain drug dealers, for
the benefit of other drug dealers.

What role does the criminalization of drugs play in social relations,
particularly class relations in the United States?

It targets young black and Latino men for arrest, and for imprisonment. The
jails of the United States hold a very large percentage of the young men
from the black and Latino communities. These happen to be the potentially
most revolutionary sectors of the working class in the United States.

The war on drugs in the United states plays a vital role in keeping the
working class disorganized, and to the extent that it is organized, led by
the most conservative petty bourgeois, pro-imperialist layers of workers.

It does virtually nothing to reduce drug abuse, and it makes drug abuse
more dangerous by increasing the possibility of the use of contaminated
drugs, and of overdoses.

Legal but regulated drugs - as alcohol now is - would continue to cause
health and safety problems. But they would be significantly reduced.

Drug abuse might increase immediately after legalization - as happened with
alcohol abuse after prohibition ended, but it would level off after the
effects of lower prices and novelty wore off.

Here’s an interesting question in regard to the "war on drugs". Why doesn’t
the bourgeoisie, which is so completely gung-ho on "market solutions" adopt
a market solution -like legalization - to solve this particular problem?

I think the answer lies partly in the role the war on drugs plays in class
relations, outlined above, and partly in the answer to another question:
"who makes the big bucks from the production, sale, and distribution of
illegal drugs in the USA?"

I think it is a certainty that the BIG profits are not accruing in Colombia
or Mexico, and are not enriching very many small time street hustlers in
the USA either. The answer is, that the big profits are being made by
dealers with very nice corporate offices in the USA, and with very friendly
relations with politicians.

The big drug dealers are the made in the USA mafias who used to control
bootleg alcohol. The Eddie D’s of the world.

They do not want drugs legalized. They nearly went out of business when
prohibition ended. For them, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Joseph Kennedy,
were traitors.

If you have read or watched the ‘Godfather’ you know the scene where Marlon
Brando opposes the mafia’s entrance into the heroin business. In the movie
his faction seems to win, but in real life, they lost.

The wholesale and retail distribution networks established during World War
II by the mafia were never shut down or even seriously harmed by the US
government’s highly publicized anti-mafia campaign in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Why? Because they were established under the protection of the OSS, and
continued under the protection of the CIA. OSS protection was extended in
an agreement with the mafia during WWII to assist the allies in the
invasion of Sicily and Italy. Sicily became the transit and processing site
of opium coming from the poppy fields in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.

The alliance was extended and continued after the war - only now with the
addition of heroin from Southeast Asia’s golden triangle - an area
controlled by a Kuomintang army which had fled south from the revolution
(and remains in control of the area to this day, despite the fiction of
national borders there.)

The mafias’ heroin distribution networks were intact, operating, and
well-oiled, when cocaine became the drug of choice in the 1970’s and 80’s.
They simply enlarged the existing organization to accomadate a new product.

The little gang wars in Miami - apparently between groups of Cubans, and
groups of Colombians - were merely a proxy wars between traditional mafia

As for the book Josh refers to, I don’t know.

It is true that the FARC and ELN use kidnapping to extort ransom. Most of
those kidnapped are members of the Colombian bourgeoisie, a significant
number are small farmers, and a very small number are foreign citizens
working in Colombia or visiting.

It is also true that the FARC and to a lesser extent the ELN make important
parts of their income from the drug trade. The FARC began by protecting
small farmers growing coca from having their crops stolen, or being forced
to accept whatever payment the drug dealers wanted to give them. The FARC
‘regulated’ the market to the poor farmer’s benefit. A small farmer now can
count on earning a few hundred dollars a year from his coke crop. Not much,
but better than selling platanos, and a significant amount in a country
where the minimum wage is about $120.00 month.

 The author of the book may be telling the truth, and may not. He may be an
unfortunate victim of the "war on drugs", or he may have deserved it.

As for the issue of a "real revolution" in Colombia ... Colombia could have
a real revolution, and the FARC or even the ELN could lead it. But right
now they are leading prolonged defensive armed struggles - which if you
look at things in the long view might be seen as part of a social
revolution - but they are not about to march into Bogotá any day very soon.

And, last I have a few bones to pick with Tony’s reply.

He wrote,

"Most of the American population now sees the question of Colombian
intervention as a necessary battle for the future success of the 'Drug
War', which they support.     This approval of interventionism against the
'Narco Guerrilla', comes from the overwhelming majority of liberals, too.
  How sad."

I think that Tony is giving the "American population" way too much credit
in the "aware of the world" department. I bet you ten dollars that the
majority of people in the United States do not know or care where Colombia
is, what language people speak here, or whether or not this country has
anything to do with drugs, guerrillas or war.

Going to war in Colombia is not a popular crusade among the "American
population" even if some people in the USA would like it to be.

And, if the USA were to send combat troops here in any significant numbers,
a lot of them would come home in body bags.

All the best, Anthony

Louis Proyect
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