What Effect Has Narco-Trafficking Had on Colombian Politics and Society?

Topics: Illegal drug trade, Colombia, Drug cartel Pages: 11 (3646 words) Published: January 22, 2011
Abstract: Colombia is internationally notorious for the trafficking of illicit drugs, and for the past thirty years. Its impact of politics and society has been immense. This essay will highlight and expand to what extent have Colombia’s socio-politics been affected. It will firstly highlight, the damaging effects of the narcotics industry, by explaining 1) the economic effects, 2) undermining the authority of the Colombian Government through funding Guerrilla and paramilitary groups and social consequences of these groups, 3) the corruption of politics 4) political relations with the USA, 5) direct political power of drug lords and 6) the health consequences of the circulation of drugs. However, these arguments will be counteracted by explain that other factors contribute to Colombia society and politics, such as 1) a weakened central state and 2) poverty. However, this essay will conclude that the narcotics industry affects all aspects of Colombia. In the 1980s, Colombia achieved international notoriety as a centre for the trafficking of illicit drugs. The industry has influenced Colombia’s development and as a result the entire political and societal structure of Colombia has been affected by its vast drug problem. As Francisco Thoumi summarised, “illegal drug and trafficking have marked the past thirty years of Colombia’s history; contributing greatly to the changes in institutions and values, and becoming a major element in the country’s policy.” . This essay will primarily postulate Thoumi’s argument- that the extent to which illicit drugs (in this essay we will concentrate on the cocaine industry) in Colombia have affected politics and society ranges wide in scope, and has affected the country in several ways: 1a Economically

2a Undermining the authority of the Colombian Government through funding Guerrilla and Paramilitary groups and the Social Consequences of these groups 3a Corruption of Politicians
4a Political relations with the USA
5a Direct Political Power of Drug Lords
6a Health consequences of the circulation of drugs.
However, the trafficking of narcotics and its effect on Colombian politics and society is limited as other contributing factors are: 1b Reliance on other exports
2b External Political and Social problems
It will be clear from these aspects, that although the reasons for Colombia’s problems such as lack of Political control over guerrilla and paramilitary violence can be external, as Colombia has progressed both politically and socially for reasons unrelated to drugs. However the drug trade has not left many aspects of Colombia’s social and political structure unscathed. 1a Economic Effects

Salomón Kalmanovitz, a Colombian economist claims the “effects on different social sectors in significant, and its result on the Colombian economy are imperative to understanding the problem” . Profits of the cocaine business reach a colossal 3000% . Colombian national wealth hits the 120 billion dollar mark, and the GDP is estimated at 40 billion dollars . Using this data, Kalmanovitz suggests that the proportion which relates to drug traffickers reaches 20 billion dollars, of which 4 billion is a direct profit to drug cartels, moreover, 3.5 billion ends up getting reintroduced into the economy . This represents around 8% of the Colombian GDP . Furthermore, other related activities, such as money laundering and contraband, make up a further 8 billion . This has a huge effect on Colombia, as the underground economy ensures that the country is exporting 10 billion, instead of the official 5.5. billion However, the drug trafficking has also been negative, as the influx of narco-dollars from the USA has resulted in the revaluation of the Colombian peso, which has placed pressure on Colombia’s traditional industries such as coffee. 2a Undermining the authority of the Colombian Government through funding Guerrilla and Paramilitary groups in the late 1980s and early 1990s they were reacting against...

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