Democracy in Latin America: Colombia and Venezuela

By Donald L. Herman | Go to book overview

14
Reassessment and Projection

Donald L. Herman

The chapters in this book are selective, and admittedly, additional topics might be explored in analyzing Colombian and Venezuelan democracy. During the past several years, however, an important development has taken place the effect of which is of such significance that future studies of Latin American democracy, in certain countries, will be required to examine the problem. Before we reassess the earlier hypotheses and look to the future, let us consider this most important variable.


DRUG TRADE

Any analysis of democracy in the two countries must address the question of the drug trade, particularly in Colombia. The thousands of families involved in production, and the billions of dollars exchanged in marketing, impinge on the Colombian political-socioeconomic structure and thereby affect the very nature of the regime. Drug trade is a dangerous research topic, however, and at best we can only speculate as to its real impact. It is clandestine and illegal and, of course, reliable statistical evidence is scarce. Nevertheless, enough has been written on the subject to allow us to appreciate the influence of the "narcodollar" on the substantive and procedural norms of democracy.

The three principal drugs that emanate from Colombia are marijuana, cocaine, and methaqualone. ( Rohrer's methaqualone is the primary source of Quāālude tablets.) 1 The success of Mexico's massive herbicide program in 1975 provided an opportunity for Colombian traficantes and their U.S. counterparts, and within a few years Colombian marijuana replaced that from Mexico and soon dominated the U.S. drug market. In 1984, not only was Colombia the largest supplier to the U.S. market of the three previously mentioned drugs, but it was also the

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