Published On: Tue, May 27th, 2014

Cocaine Santos

Jacob Gelt DekkerWith the continued existence of the nacro-industry hanging in the balance, Colombia is electing a new president. So far, the incumbent president, Santos, is not making it. In the first round, he was beaten by Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, once a colleague cabinet member under Uribe, and now a fierce opponent.

A deal with the guerilla organization, FARC, ---a ban on illicit cocaine trading--- was not sufficient to convince voters to give Santos an outright majority and a run off had to be scheduled for next month. Zuluaga, strongly endorsed by former president Uribe, is in the lead with 5 points.

FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, fought a bloody 50–year long war. Since May 27, 1964, when Manuel Marulanda and his guerilla band, in the self declared segregated Republic of Marquetalia, had to face Colombian Armed forces, the bloodshed never stopped.

After endless carnage, in 1999, peace talks began in the demilitarized zone of Caguan. When Colombia’s president Andres Pastrana and FARC- leader Manuel Marulanda embraced each other behind the conference table in 2001, the future looked bright, but only for a brief moment. The kidnapping of a commercial jetliner by the FARC with a senator on board, on 20 February 2002, and three days later, the kidnapping of presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, caused all niceness between parties to evaporate.

FARC turned into world’s largest and most murderous crime organization, producing and shipping illicit cocaine around the world and making billions of dollars in the process.

With the support of Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez, new open safe passages were created to give full access to the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean islands. Chavez’s Kalisnikov factories rearmed the FARC forces and for a moment the new FARC/ communist- Bolivarian -Chavismo pact seems invincible.

Quickly Venezuela took over Colombia’s role as world’s largest transporter of cocaine. Since Evo Morales became president of Bolivia in 2006, cocaine production in his country tripled. Cocaine production and FARC became a multinational enterprise, no longer, exclusively linked to Colombia. Nobody can tell you explicitly, how much and where FARC’s main production takes place, today.

It took ten more years of mayhem before, in November 2012, FARC began peace talks again in Havana, Cuba. As a token of goodwill, President Santos has been waving a no-illicit-cocaine- trading agreement for Colombia in front of millions of voters.

Note: The culture of cocaine in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru en Ecuador is party legal and partly illegal. The legitimate part produces products for cocaine tealeaves, available in every super market, as well as a base product for the production of Novocain/ Lidocain, a local anesthetic for small medical procedures. The illicit branch of cocaine cultures caters to recreational, cocaine drug markets of the USA and Europe. The disrupting element is not necessarily the use or abuse of the white powder, though considered by the western world as a nuisance, but the extreme violence between competing drug trading gangs, costing the lives of tens of thousands every year. In addition, money laundering and corruption have driven the legitimacy of institutions of sovereign states in the region, to its very limits.

President Santos’s cocaine deal with FARC is not very believable. The trade represents hundreds of billions of dollars annually. It seems most unlikely that the FARC will have sufficient power to control the execution of such agreement even if they wanted to, let alone be able to police it in the future. Therefore most voters see the Santos ‘deal as a fake.

Opponent, presidential candidate, Zuluaga, strongly aligned to the Uribe camp, vowed to fight on and eradicate the FARC-factions, their illicit trade, their cruelty and violence. As a well educated economist and with the rapid growth of the Colombian economy supporting him, Zuluaga seems to have all the cards. In a few weeks, the voters will make the final decision, and South America may experience an other major shift.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker (Columnist for Curacao Chronicle)

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