Colombia: Share The Pain

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August 16, 2007: A navy admiral was removed from his job when investigators found connections with drug gangs. The admiral had commanded forces patrolling the Caribbean coast. The drug gangs are constantly attempting to buy the services of senior military, police and other officials. Part of the government comeback against the drug gangs are more effective monitoring for corruption. Despite this, nine senior army and navy officers are under investigation for taking bribes. Even more non-military government officials are being investigated or prosecuted. Despite the risk of prosecution, the money offered by the gangs is often irresistible. The gangs also try threats, including threats to kidnap or murder family members. This often backfires, with police and military attention being focused on the group making the threats. But all the gangs use bribes. It's less messy and more, well, "businesslike."

The government has recognized that it's the gangster culture that has cursed Colombia with all these drug gangs, and the lawlessness and violence that accompanies them. Colombia is unique in that it has been in the midst of a civil war for the last sixty years. Too many Colombians are unable to work out their political problems through negotiation, and instead have made Colombia the most violent country in the Western Hemisphere (which is more violent than the rest of the world, but that's another story).

The breakdown in law and order gave the drug gangs an opportunity, and they took it. Unprecedented prosperity in North America and Europe over the last four decades increased the demand for illegal drugs. Lawless Colombia was the easiest place for gangsters to produce cocaine in the coca growing region of South America. Other countries in this region were able to repulse the drug gangs, but not Colombia. Now that is changing, and the drug gangs are fighting to the death. None of the other countries in the region are as hospitable to the cocaine business. If Colombia succeeds in making the cocaine business much less profitable, which is already happening, the drug business will flee to adjacent nations. This is already happening. The neighbors don't like it. No politicians will admit it, but Colombia's neighbors prefer most of the drug business to stay in Colombia, along with all the gang violence and corruption. No one expects the cocaine trade to disappear anytime soon, but Colombia is determined to make its neighbors share the pain, so that Colombians can suffer a little less.

 

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