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Monday, February 8, 2016

Columbia: Cocaine and Terrorism

Columbia: Cocaine and Terrorism
Columbia has suffered from terror, and has also suffered from the drug trade. The CIA reports in it's World Factbook that “A leading NGO estimates that 5.2 million people have been displaced since 1985, while the Colombian Government estimates 3.6 million since 2000. These estimates may undercount actual numbers because not all internally displaced persons are registered” (CIA, n.d.). Cook states that “The root of the Colombian Government's war with the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) began with the period of Colombian history known as 'La Violencia'” (2011, p.20). The terror continues today.
The CIA World Factbook gives the following information regarding Columbia-
  • Total population: 46,245,297
  • Ethnic composition: mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%
  • Urban population: 75.3% of total population
  • Percentage of population employed in service industries: 62%
  • Unemployment rate:9.7% (2013 est.)

Narco-terrorism is the dominant form of terrorism in Columbia, practiced by the “two outlaw groups, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)and the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC)”(Grossman & Mejía, 2008, p. 6). FARC is a Leftist terror group, while AUC is a collection of right-wing terror groups, although the AUC “was largely demobilized by 2006” (Nariño, 2014, p. 221). However, this did not mean either the end of right-wing terror, or these groups' involvement in the drug trade. Saab and Taylor explain, “Against the background of the demobilization of the AUC, new emerging criminal bands (known by the Colombian government as Bandas Criminales Emergentes,or BACRIM) have formed”(2009, p.456)
Revenues from the drug trade play a major role in the financing of FARC's terror operations. “Several estimates place drug-related FARC annual revenues in the first years of the current decade at around $300 million. These amount to 40% to 60% of the total” (Labrousse, 2005, p. 179). The participation of FARC in the drug trade played a major role in it's growth as an armed force. Cook supports this idea. “The entrance into the drug trade has been widely cited in the literature for its role in the FARC's expansion both geographically and in terms of their capabilities. Coca was a motivator for taking new territory as well as a provider of funding to empower the FARC's military units. “ (2011, p.22).
Cocaine is the drug of trade for FARC. Grossman and Mejía “calculate the net income of cocaine production(without interdiction costs) per hectare of land cultivated with coca to be between $11,000 and $15,000” (2008, p 16). Labrousse discusses the method of revenue generation; “the guerrillas set the price of coca paid by merchants to small proprietors, in exchange for a levy of 7% to 10% on the sale of their harvest “ (2005, p. 172).
Piazza explains Kleiman's theoretical “depiction of the relationships linking drugs and terrorism and distill them into separate 'cash' and 'chaos' arguments about causal mechanisms” (2011, p, 299). Essentially, the “cash” argument focuses on denying terrorists financing by attacking their drug trade revenue, while the “chaos” argument focuses on the instability of a government maintaining order in a drug trade state. Piazza presents one hypothesis, that “Higher rates of drug crop eradication and drug product interdiction will yield lower rates of terrorism” (2011, p. 302). Piazza concludes of his study that “results seem to be consistent with the argument that addressing the illicit drug trade, using commonplace, though controversial, counternarcotics strategies, will yield security benefits vis-à-vis the threat posed by terrorism” (2011, p. 311). Of course, we should recognize that degrading terrorist capabilities does not end terror activity. Labrousse discusses the ability of FARC to obtain continued financing, “Other funding sources come from extortion, kidnappings, illegal mining of precious gems, and legal businesses they own...”(2005, p.179).

The world factbook: South America: Columbia. (n.d.). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved February 5, 2015 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/co.html
Cook, T. R. (2011). The financial arm of the FARC: A threat finance perspective. Journal of Strategic Security, 4(1), 19-36. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1944-0472.4.1.2
Grossman, H. I., & Mejía, D. (2008). The war against drug producers. Economics of Governance, 9(1), 5. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10101-007-0036-1
Labrousse, A. (2005). The FARC and the Taliban's connection to drugs. Journal of Drug Issues, 35(1), 169-184. Retrieved February 5, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com/docview/208831981?accountid=87314
Nariño, A. (2014). Prospects for peace: Negotiations with FARC. Journal of International Affairs, 68(1), 221-XIV. Retrieved February 5, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1644459685?accountid=87314
Piazza, J. A. (2011). The illicit drug trade, counternarcotics strategies and terrorism. Public Choice, 149(3-4), 297-314. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11127-011-9846-3
Saab, B. Y., & Taylor, A. W. (2009). Criminality and armed groups: A comparative study of FARC and paramilitary groups in Colombia. Studies In Conflict & Terrorism, 32(6), 455-475. doi:10.1080/10576100902892570

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