Claudia López’s column in El Tiempo had an interesting analysis Tuesday. She states that Colombia is no longer a priority for the United States in Latin America, because the Colombian government has been able to convince the Americans that the war in the country is under control. The United States’ attention is going to be shifted to Mexico, López writes, because the USA are very worried about the drugs related violence in that country.
And there is another observation which is interesting, although I cannot tell if it is true. She states that drugs trafficking is not the main source of income for the leftist guerrilla group FARC. Kidnapping and extortion are more important, according to López. She states that in the war on drugs the paramilitaries’ business has been left alone. Therefore the amount of cocaine which is transported to the United States hasn’t diminished, she says.
Mexico is an important corridor for Colombia’s cocaine to the United States, as for example the Washington Post has written. So the strategy to shift attention from Colombia to Mexico doesn’t seem very adequate. Because the root of the problem will not be solved.
If López is right, a shift in the war on drugs within Colombia is needed. And there the United States play an important part, as financier of Plan Colombia. One of the important goals of this plan is the eradication of coca production. All coca production, I presume, not only the FARC’s.
I believe Colombian authorities are also aware of the interest to fight (new) paramilitary groups. (The government refuses to call them like that because the demobilization of the paramilitaries supposedly was a success. The new or still existing paramilitaries therefore are called emerging gangs.) More emphasis is being put on finishing with these gangs. Today was a successful day by the way, because the police caught 18 members of the most famous ’emerging gang’: don Mario’s.
The problem in Mexico cannot be solved if the amount of cocaine from Colombia doesn’t diminish. It doesn’t even matter if Claudia López is right in her observation on FARC’s and paramilitaries’ (or emerging gangs’ if you want) share in drugs trafficking. Everybody knows that the supply of cocaine on the American market keeps being high.
Of course there are the people who say the war on drugs doesn’t make sense. That might be true as well. In any case it is hopeful that the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recognized that the American demand of cocaine is part of the problem. At least the problem can be fought against from to sides: demand and supply.
Author Wies Ubags is a Dutch freelance journalist in Bogotá, works for media in her country and has her own weblog.