The Cold War Influenced Today’s Narco Culture Across South America and the Caribbean

The Cold War Influenced Today’s Narco Culture Across South America and the Caribbean

Narco culture across South America and the Caribbean has been popularized through television series, films, and video games, but none of those mediums have looked at the early influences on the areas prior to multi-billion-dollar narco groups popping up.  Out of all the craziness that stems from the narco world, there might be nothing crazier than learning that the Cold War influenced many aspects of today’s narco culture across South America and the Caribbean and then learning how in the 2000s there was a country in the Caribbean that was on the verge of becoming narco state, like Colombia of the 1980s during the era of Pablo Escobar, and the immense efforts it took to prevent that from happening.

Brazil’s dictatorship imprisoned leftist intellectuals hoping rapes and beatings would get them to abandon their ideology.

During the Cold War, Brazil’s dictatorship (1964-1985) was the target of foreign influence from the Soviet Union and Cuba, with the end goal of the foreign influence being a communist Brazil.  The dictatorship government turned to the U.S.  for help to deal with the issue, and it was determined that the best course of action was if all leftist intellectuals and guerilla sympathizers were jailed and sent to the worst prisons across the country.

The thinking behind this strategy was that the leftist intellectuals who were against the dictatorship, mostly members of the middle class, would be imprisoned with the most hardcore criminals from impoverished favelas, and that it would teach them a lesson.  It was believed that lesson would be the result of repeated beatings and rapes to the point that the leftist intellectuals would abandon their ideology.  Additionally, the leftist intellectuals would be denied political prisoner status so that they would not be legitimized with political status.

When the leftist intellectuals were imprisoned and paired with Brazil’s most hardcore criminals, they were denied political prisoner status and separated from the general population and sent to most extreme prisons the country had to offer.  The beatings and rapes of the intellectual leftists that the dictatorship had hoped for never occurred.  Instead, it would be the thinking that these intellectuals would implant within each and every mind within the prison that would lead Brazil’s most hardcore criminals experience a climax of the mind.

Upon arriving to the prisons, the leftist intellectuals began to educate the hardcore criminals with their revolutionary ideas, which eventually ended up giving rise to a united grouping structure of mixed cells.  Subsequently, the leftist ideology spread like wildfire across the country’s most extreme prisons, the idea of struggle and repression was a common thread between all the prisoners.  Additionally, all the hardcore criminals admired how the leftist intellectuals read and seemed to be one with literature, and it seemed to have a profound effect on the prison population.

Once those hardcore criminals began getting released into society, they went back to their favelas preaching the same revolutionary ideas that were taught to them to those living within their communities.  The rhetoric was a mix of class struggle, and that is how much of today’s leftist ideology got imbued within everyone from the most marginalized members of society to the middle class.  Today, these two demographics tend to exclusively vote for left-leaning governments, and perhaps why Brazil tends to elect left-leaning governments.

What nobody could have imagined during the Cold War era is that when Brazil’s dictatorship ordered for all leftist intellectuals to be imprisoned with the country’s most hardcore criminals that it would have an opposite effect on the political landscape forever.  Perhaps the perfect image that best illustrates the situation would be to imagine a society which had hundreds of Malcolm Xs and all of them had an equivalent impact on the minds of those within their favelas – like Malcolm X had on Black American minds as well as minds in general.

The shortsightedness of Brazil’s dictatorship may be the single-greatest case study proving that leadership battles are won largely due to rhetoric and the ability to convince, not social status or power, and that the power of education was that of a great equalizer.  Other countries across South America that took similar steps, the fallout from those actions had nearly identical repercussions.

What are the chances that the same decisions would get made again if the people of then would have known that in 2023 that 12 of 19 Latin American countries that represented over 90% of the regions people and of the GDP would establish left-leaning governments?

US and UK Policing Stakeholders Broke International Laws to Prevent Jamaica from Bcoming a Narco State.

The People’s National Party is one of the political parties that had been successfully influenced by Cuba long before the gangs became international drug trafficking organizations.  Similar to how Cuba’s political shifts occurred, violence also became a staple of Jamaica’s political wars.  It was not uncommon for mobs to charge communities that were represented by rival political parties and carry out attacks with guns and machetes.  It became so bad that border communities began to get abandoned as they were considered too dangerous; many are overgrown with weeds and came to be a no-man’s-land border.  Then. once there was a realization of how much money could be made by trafficking drugs around the world, that culture of violence was further embraced by different organized crime groups.

Prior to the 1980s, Jamaica was known for its traffickers who would transport marijuana into the US, but post 1980 Jamaica quickly saw traffickers abandon marijuana in favor of cocaine, and they began exploring how to procure large quantities of guns from the US.  What the Jamaicans had going for them was that they were located between South America’s drug cartels and the US, and with all the attention going toward South America, the unassuming Jamaicans took advantage.  When mixed with their unique culture, Jamaicans were successful at crossing physical borders as well as cultural borders.

Another advantage the Jamaicans learned to take advantage of was a rule that stemmed from people being able to enter the US with a green card, as there was no passport requirement.  Fake green cards became the norm, and they were acquired from the US and mailed back to Jamaica.  It allowed Jamaican gangsters to enter the US for a few days, for the purposes of drug trafficking but also to carry out violent crime.  Rules around travel to the UK were just as lax, and the Jamaican organized crime groups exploited the unrestricted travel between the two countries.

A major shift took when Interpol police seized a gun shipment in Jamaica and the firearms were traced and discovered to have been used in murders in the US.  As a result, the US’ three letter agencies quickly got involved, including both the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and by the early 90s a majority of the Jamaican gangsters had been sentenced to life in prison. As a result, Jamaican organized crime groups began to change how they operated and to look elsewhere.

Over time, Jamaicans traffickers identified a major flaw with European security, where cocaine was even more expensive; they could travel unrestricted between Jamaica and the UK, and there were minimal security screenings.  Women were used to transport the drugs stuffed into their vaginal and anal cavities, and could carry around 400 grams.  Multiple women were used to transport the drugs on a single flight so that a drug bust of one or a few women would be less costly.  Some women were even assisted in setting up small-scale businesses for commercial importing, for extra cover.

At the peak of the problem, officials in the UK estimated that 1 in 10 passengers from flights originating from Jamaica and headed towards the UK were importing drugs.  It was an estimation that was shared by the UN, which suggested that there could be as many as 20 passengers on each plane that were transporting drugs.  Other reports would come out mentioning how stewardesses were also involved in smuggling drugs, and that there may have been pilots who were filling their carry-on briefcases with drug contraband.  There was even a story of a female youth who had refused to be filled with packaged cocaine and how drug traffickers raped her and shot her in the vagina, as a form of punishment.

Drug traffickers, however, were not the only problem, hitmen were arriving from Jamaica and paid to carry out killings across the UK and other parts of Europe as they had been doing in the US.  Then in 2003, UK passed new legislation that demanded that Jamaicans needed to acquire visas to travel to the UK.

In 2004, public safety stakeholders in Washington DC orchestrated plans for Jamaican officers to physically tap the phone lines of the leaders of a drug trafficking organization without any court approvals by relying on memorandums of understanding.  Additionally, a 3.2-million-dollar payment to Jamaican police would also be made, and in return US agents would be listening in on the calls from Washington.  These operations also involved public safety stakeholders from the UK, because the drug trafficking networks were creating serious problems there.  They were so secretive that practically all the operations were occurring without the knowledge of government officials within the US and the UK, but also within Jamaica.

From 2004 to 2007, there was so much disturbing information that was collected that a judge disregarded the transgressions in favor of national security and the court provided approval for further activities.  By 2010, Jamaica was on the verge of becoming a narco state like Colombia during the 1980s during the time of Pablo Escobar, the result of weak political and judicial institutions.  Jamaica’s organized crime groups eventually infiltrated the government and began influencing the procurement of public contracts for millions of dollars, and it was believed that they held influence within the highest levels of government.

What eventually ensued was something of a civil war, where Jamaica’s policing stakeholders went after the kingpins of the organized crime rings, who were heavily armed and protected within their garrisons.  The armed conflicted expanded to include spy planes and Jamaican police using mortar fire to fight against the swathes of gunmen.  The super zoom lenses within the spy planes that had a real-time view of the situation, and the information was shared to assist police with their operations.  In return, some of the gangsters would blitz police stations, which resulted in police firing mortars into residential areas, often referred to as garrisons.  Eventually reports would come out that there had been extrajudicial killings of innocent civilians, recorded by the spy planes, but that have never been released due to their ability to cause grave harm to the national interests of all the countries involved.

A subsequent inquiry into the armed conflict highlighted systemic inequities between Jamaica’s ethnic and social classes, with the police being identified as being a classist institution.  A minority of police were also identified as being deviants who would continually embarrass and shame their colleagues via misconduct, but that police cover-up culture was a major hurdle towards progress.  The power dynamic that existed between police and those in garrisons was also mentioned, noting that those communities were almost entirely criminalized, and how it is not uncommon for police who entered these areas to get involved in shoot outs.  and the inquiry also noted how warzones that emerge out of crime wars are unlike traditional armed conflicts, which could reference the Geneva Conventions, and that they might be the new norm for armed conflicts on this side of the hemisphere.

Much of Jamaica’s violence seems to emanate from its politics, under foreign influence during the Cold War, and that culture of violence was further embraced by drug trafficker organizations.  And violence remains somewhat of a norm in today’s Jamaica.

A New Kind of Crime has Emerged, and Life has Become Less Safe.

Both Brazil and Jamaica have struggled with the vacuum of instability that arose as the slavery era came to an end, and as dictatorships began to pop up in the absence of a master-slave system.  Then when collapsing dictatorships seemed to give rise to democracies, it was in the presence of new-born political and judicial institutions.  Transitioning from one system to the other, foreign influence played a major role, but it highlighted the societal inequities that were already out in the open and for everyone to see.

Nothing about the marginalized communities on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum was inherent.  They were man-made conditions, by those with an abstract view of society and who deserves what, resulting in a by-product the fertilized the soil to allow for left-leaning ideologies to blossom.  It also gave rise to a new kind of organized crime that has since emerged across other countries and continents, one that does not aim to topple governments but rather to become a part of them.  And in fact, the US’ problem with illegal immigration, and the role that individual and social forces play in relation on the US’ southern border has links to this—a new form of terrorism—narco-terrorism.