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US double-speak on drugs

By Rickey Singh

 I GUESS that the United States, as the world’s  sole “superpower” —even though currently agonising over the limits of its economic and military might in dealing with Russia over Ukraine—can indulge in making sweeping negative claims against small states in our Caribbean region.

Hence, last Saturday, as Caribbean Community leaders were advancing arrangements for this week’s Intersessional Meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines, scheduled to conclude yesterday, there came a report out of Washington with a scorching verbal swipe at poor governance and “leadership” in this region.

The US State Department report, carried by the Caribbean Media Corporation, accused leaders, of the eastern Caribbean in particular, for having “largely failed” to address “official corruption” pertaining  to narco-trafficking primarily from Colombia and Venezuela.

Coincidentally, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, in addressing at the weekend a delegates conference of the governing St Lucia Labour  Party was emphasising why the Caribbean bloc of states in general would remain supportive and appreciative of Venezuela’s  PetroCaribe project.

Currently contending with violent political confrontations at home—which, it claims, enjoy clandestine backing from the US—the administration of Nicolas Maduro has reassured the beneficiary countries of PetroCaribe that it will maintain, with some adjustments, this subsidised oil facility, even as he addresses spreading domestic social and economic challenges.  

Prime Minister Skerrit, thought it necessary to remind the conference in St Lucia that  both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have come around to recognising the benefits of this partnership project.

Be that as it may, there is the harsh reality of America’s  dismal record of failures to curb its own huge domestic  consumption of illegal drugs as it seeks to combat the enormous narcotics trade and shipments of small arms to the Caribbean.

The US needs to remind itself of glaring failures to effectively respond to its own unflattering reputation as the world’s biggest consumer of illegal drugs—cocaine, marijuana, heroin and opium—that have resulted in enormous social, economic, social and political consequences for the Caribbean and Latin American region. 

Under administrations of both Republicans and Democrats—the US has, for far too long, treated Caribbean and Latin American states as part of its “backyard”. Perhaps, therefore, it should take a deep breath and humbly reflect on its efforts to combat narcotics trafficking in this hemisphere. 

Following last week’s report by the State Department, I chose to re-read chapters of what remains a most definitive book on political and financial corruption involving security and military personnel, as well as key figures in America’s  drug enforcement and intelligence agencies (DEA and CIA).

The book, Cocaine Politics—Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America—by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall is worth reading  by anyone with a keen interest in understanding the mind-blowing political, intelligence, security, military and diplomatic intrigue and resulting human and economic consequences of America’s so-called “war on drugs and terrorism”.  

First published back in 1991 by the University of California Press,   the book offers some 64 pages of valuable notes and references including names of key players, dates and places  of meetings, narco-shipments and assassinations. 

The passage of time does not affect its relevance and  it is well worth buying by anyone with more than a casual interest in the various roles the US has played in order to better place in context its stated commitment to fighting narco-trafficking and terrorism in this hemisphere while being  seemingly unable to effectively deal with the scourge of illegal drugs within its own borders.

A central focus of  the book is the authors’ concern with what they have identified as “the explosion of cocaine trafficking” through Central America during the years of president Ronald Reagan and made possible  by his administration’s covert operations to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua amid what came to be known as the “Iran-Contra” affair.   

Current US Secretary of State  John Kerry knows much about America’s own connivance in drug trafficking, terrorism  and destabilisation of governments in  this hemisphere, having chaired  the congressional subcommittee that submitted a revealing report  sourced by the authors of Cocaine Politics.

     

* Rickey Singh is a Guyana-born, Barbados-based Noted journalist of the Caribbean.

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