by Oscar Javier Forero
Venezuela the narco State
Both inside and outside the country it is increasingly common to hear the term ” narco state “, as a way of accusing not only the Venezuelan government but the entire institutionality of the republic of being immersed in drug trafficking crimes. The boldness is such, and it is daring, that Colombia, the main producer of cocaine, and the United States, fourth consumer of opiates and first consumer of cocaine, cannabis, opioids, amphetamines, stimulant drugs and ecstasy in the world, generally use this qualifier as a way to facilitate the open process of interventionism that the Trump administration clearly shows.
These types of accusations, together with adjectives such as terrorists and anti-democrats, to name just two, are a kind of tool used to lynch governments that are not to the White House’s taste. Contradictorily, countries that actually practice state terrorism or those that maintain bloodthirsty dictatorships, that violate any human rights’ principle enjoy Washington’s approval, as long as they complies with its mandates.
International media, in its trailing and servile role, broadly replicates this information, even when they do not present a moderately serious substance that at least addresses the issue from a documented perspective.
That from the United States, Colombia, Mexico or Spain Venezuela is accused of drug trafficking State is a sovereign barbarity, whose main objective is not to leave room for the rationality of the population, moral annihilation is a previous step to physical annihilation, scenarios such as those who mounted in Yugoslavia, Libya and Iraq realize this.
The governments allied to the White House and international media, the same ones that told us that if Pablo Escobar died, the sending of drugs ended, they try to make us conclude that the drug trafficking business exists because the Venezuelan authorities, in a role of perpetrators, are responsible for buying and producing huge amounts of cocaine that are going to land, who knows under what ruse, on the streets of the northern countries, the victims, enriching the whole of the generalate, judges, ministers, deputies, governors, mayors and a long etcetera. The idea is to generate a synonym between Chavismo and drug trafficking.
The narco-Venezuelan route?
Venezuela is in a geographically privileged area, with wide coasts and that shares 2150 kilometers of border line with Colombia, this leads it to represent a phenomenal route for sending drugs to the United States and Europe that previously and on a stopover, have also passed by Dominican Republic, Aruba and Trinidad Tobago mainly.
However, this route, even when it is so attractive, is not the most used. The bulk of the shipments of cocaine and heroin produced by the neighboring country leave through the Colombian Pacific, arrive in Panama, Honduras and Mexico, countries in which the United States has at least 18 military bases; Another route, the second most used, leaves Cartagena in the Colombian Caribbean, arrives in Bahamas, a small island of 13 thousand square kilometers in which the northern power also has a military base in Nassau. In this the Colombian authorities agree and even the United States itself.
The transit of drugs through Venezuelan territory to the United States and Europe is nothing new, nor the mobilization of drug traffickers to western cities such as Mérida or San Cristóbal. In 1997, the “ last great capo” was captured in the center of San Cristóbal, after Pablo Escobar’s death, his name: Justo Pastor Perafán, this Colombian ex-military man had lived on Tachira land at least a year where he could move freely.
The shipment of important cargoes that stop in Venezuela is historical, something that at no time is to be hidden. In 1999 a Boeing 727 belonging to Saudi prince Nayef Bin Fawwaz al-Shaalan departed from Caracas, after completing an OPEC meeting, said plane was stopped in Paris with two tons of high purity cocaine. This Saudi prince, from that moment on is protected by Saudi Arabia, even when wanted for drug trafficking.
For all this to have happened, undoubtedly, there was cooperation from military, police and civil officials, as well as in all the countries considered in the coca route. It is not intended at any time to deny the existence of networks permeated by the burdensome income that this industry leaves, this is a historical and real fact. What cannot be accepted is that it is said that the institutionality of the Venezuelan State is designed for this purpose, there is a huge gap that if analyzed with information from international organizations leaves those who casually press this accusation against us in a very bad position.
The Colombia-United States Axis of Narco-Capitalism
According to the most recent report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs(UNODC), for 2017, revenues from the drug trafficking business are estimated at at least 320,000 million dollars. It is estimated that at least 95% of this industry’s total income remains in the receiving countries, that is, North America and Europe, while the remaining 5% is received by the producing countries.
These numbers do not differ at all from the percentages of profit received by industrialized countries ( consumers ) and developing countries ( producers-extractivists) for the commercialization of any raw material, say iron, copper, gold, diamonds or coltan. The relationship of exploitation and the international division of labor is also identical for illegality, the actors are the same, on the one hand there are the winners: the great international bank, the corporations and the military industrial apparatus; on the other, the losers, those who give blood and sweat in war: the unemployed, peasants without opportunities and thousands of children who offer their arms as leaf scrapers or “scrapers.”
Coca leaf production in Colombian rural areas is directly influenced by poverty. The areas where there is a greater concentration of this crop coincide in government abandonment and in dominion of groups outside the law. The signing, by the Colombian government, of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, has triggered land destined for these crops, areas where previously there was sowing of food items, virgin forests or even national parks, are now large areas dedicated to the cultivation of coca leaf.
While the area cultivated with coffee, the main formal dynamizer of the Colombian economy, has remained practically stable between 2002 and 2018, coca planting occupies increasingly important spaces. To date, and according to the projections, the “coca leaf ” item is the third most planted product in this country, only behind the banana category (which is already on its heels) and coffee.
The society, highly influenced by what the media express, sees the problem in the rural population and there demands solutions that threaten even the lives of the latter. It is really difficult, for a farmer from Antioquia, Nariño or Norte de Santander, launched into the neoliberal arena of “free trade”, to compete against a subsidized producer with a broad protectionist policy, from Nebraska or North Dakota. To this fact it is important to add another small detail: the signing of the FTA between Colombia and the United States made it a crime to store and preserve seeds, while it became law to only have to use “certified” seeds marketed by large transnationals such as Monsanto (now Bayer ) and Dupont.
As with the international coffee market, of which it is estimated that coffee farmers receive only 2 out of every 1,000 dollars that are generated, the income for the Colombian farmer who sows and transforms the coca-based leaf is negligible next to that the big drug lords receive, that it is worth saying are not Colombians, nor Mexicans, much less Venezuelans, but they are Americans, Spaniards, Portuguese, French and Dutch. While in the Colombian countryside a kilo of coca hydrochloride (final product, ready for consumption) costs an average of $ 1,500, in the streets of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Detroit it reaches $ 120,000. In Europe, the entry of gigantic shipments of cocaine mainly from Spain and Portugal its cost goes up to $ 140,000 or even more.
Very contrary to what the advertisements made by governments such as those of Colombia and the United States try to show, there is a constant growth in the sowing of the coca leaf and its subsequent production, similar situation occurs with the demand in developed countries. For 2009 it was estimated that 210 million people in the world consumed narcotics, by 2017 the number increased to 271 million, at least 76.2 million are from North America (United States, Mexico and Canada), reflecting the enormous public network (including military-police) and of course, private, that works around this lucrative business.
The hallucinogen with the highest number of buyers every year is cannabis, it is believed that 188 million are the number of consumers, of which 36% are in the United States and Western and Central Europe where only 10% of the world’s population lives. This exponential growth coupled with the tendency to legalize the use of marijuana has been taken advantage of by large corporations that have been displacing the two traditional producers: Mexico and Morocco. At the moment, the baton of production throughout the world is curiously called the self-appointed anti-narcotics police in the world: the United States.
At the regional level, the sowing of coca leaf and production of both hydrochloride and coca base has been having a significant rebound. After more than 11 billion dollars invested in Plan Colombia, after installing 9 US military bases and an undetermined set of “quasibases” that are housed in at least 51 buildings and 24 leasing facilities (which might be more) dedicated entirely to “combat” this scourge, of hundreds of contractors who enjoy full immunity as if they were accredited diplomats, thousands of square kilometers of virgin forest bathed with glyphosate (which Monsanto dispenses), of large losses for the peasantry, of effects on the water they consume and the air they breathe, of displacements, of years of democratic security of uribism and of achieving the demobilization of the FARC guerrillas, historically indicated as the great Alkaloid producers, it can be said that Colombia, instead of eradicating, has been monopolizing the cocaine market, almost quadrupling its production in just 4 years.
The most recent data published by UNODC highlights that by 2013 in Colombia 48,000 hectares (ha) of coca were planted, representing 40% of the total cultivated on the planet, by 2017 the area in use amounted to 171,000 ha, that is 70% of world production is sown and processed in neogranadino territory. By 2020 the figure could reach 250,000 hectares, an area similar to the surface of Margarita Island and La Guaira state together.
Colombia: narco bourgeoisie and political power.
In cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, or Calí, little is known about the painful consequences that the planting of the coca leaf leaves in the social and family network, there, in the centers of power, only the millions of dollars that enter the Colombian economic system. The richest man in that country, Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo currently amasses a fortune of more than 11 billion dollars, this tycoon owner of the main bank of that country has laundered billions of dollars produced by criminal activities that revitalize the productive apparatus, something that does not bother politicians, businessmen and investors at all. Hence the “success ” of Uribist policies.
While this occurs in the impoverished towns of the periphery, the economy outside the law is what sustains the law itself; the value of coca leaf crops in the ten municipalities with the largest crops in Colombia exceeds the value of public budgets allocated by the national government for those same ten municipalities by almost double.
The same applies to the three departments that concentrate the highest coca production: Putumayo, Nariño and Norte de Santander, worth saying, are border areas, the first two with Ecuador and the last with Venezuela. The Colombian State, as part of the drug industry, seeks to reduce costs, for this it is also an accomplice of many other crimes that circulate around it, one of those is the smuggling of fuel that occurs from Ecuador and Venezuela and that significantly bleeds both nations. The dominance of the falsely demobilized paramilitary groups, the installation of crops and laboratories very close to the international border line allows the permanent supply of fuel and other supplies at often ridiculous prices, such as gasoline, cement and the products manufactured by the Venezuelan petrochemical industry. To produce a kilogram of coca base, 282 liters of gasoline are required, in addition to thousands of liters more to put in place the laboratories that are generally installed in intricate areas where electricity does not reach.
The fact that Venezuelan and Ecuadorian gasoline is of higher quality than Colombian gasoline has contributed to improving the yield in obtaining the coca base, the technical support from specialists working for groups outside the law has also increased production per hectare sown. For 2013, 205,000 tons of coca leaf were produced, for 2017 the production reached 930,900 tons, improving the yield by 453% . The latter is not accidental, science and research have been at the service of narcotics production for years, not only in Colombia but worldwide.
The First World: drug dependence and accumulation of the narco loot
Precisely for this reason there is a true public health epidemic in many of the countries developed by the so-called opioids, which are natural derivatives of morphine and opium poppy or synthetically manufactured, the latter being the most harmful. The two best known opioids arefentanyl and oxycodone, both analgesics and synthetic anesthetics, created in laboratories are up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Opioids have been guilty of overdose deaths in U.S. territory going from just over 2,000 in 2007 to 47,000 in 2017, according to conservative data from the UN, cruder official reports from U.S. health authorities place the overdose deaths for the same year at 63,000, exceeding the total number of casualties the country suffered in 20 years of war with Vietnam.
The world corprotocracy has taken advantage of this drug dependence that threatens to ravage millions of people in a few years, it is an alienation strategy that generates huge profits to large laboratories, which have the complicity and approval of governments and, that even more seriously, they have the legal and political support of the institutions.
Laboratories in China, the United States, Colombia, Mexico and South Asia fight over the immense loot that leaves billions of dollars, 600,000 deaths annually, something that little concerns transnational capital. Johnson & Johnson is known worldwide for baby powder, however, this company is one of the leading manufacturers of opioids, not content with it, faces an endless number of legal complaints for pushing millions of people, in an overlapping manner, into consumption and dependence, the transnational is about to reach an agreement with the federal government, for which it will have to pay a kind of fine, as if it had run a red light, completely freeing itself of responsibility. Again all this happens with the complicity of the system.
The system also regulates its metabolism to efficiently guarantee the supply of narcotics from its primary sources of production, the drug trafficking economy has long been one of the main engines that drives the world’s economies, with special emphasis on consumers and producers. If we combine criminal activities (drug trafficking, piracy, illegal arms sales, smuggling of oil, cybercrime, among others) in a single range, the contribution to world GDP reaches up to 5%. Not only is the Colombian bank strengthened by the money coming from the criminal economy, the world bank washes astronomical figures, according to the UN, 1.6 trillion dollars (US $ 1,600,000,000,000) enter “clean” per year; In the last decade, financial institutions such as Bank of America, City Group, HSBC and even the Institute for Religious Works (popularly known as the Bank of God or the Vatican Bank) have been sprinkled with investigations.
But, even with all these official data and figures, the narco State is Venezuela.
Translated by EF/JRE