How is Narco-Governance Related to Political Liberalism? Essay
How is narco-governance related to political liberalism?
The emergence of narco-governments has been favored largely by the thriving trade in illegal drugs. Countless of reports from numerous agencies have implicated many senior government officers of many states in drug dealing. There are governments whose budgets and public spending are bankrolled by the dirty money from illegal drug trade (Taussig, 1994).
In return, the rich drug dealers get unlimited access to the various sectors of the economy, security and protection. These drug dealers carry out their illicit drug deals with the blessings of the government (Jimenez, 1990).
The impunity displayed by these drug lords goes beyond just controlling the government spending; the government is always at their beck and call and any disgruntled voices are either intimidated into silence or killed, in most cases, the mercenaries that they own while the government officers including the president in some cases looking the other way.
Strangely enough these governments consider themselves politically liberal; they claim that their actions are for the common good of all citizens. Such kinds of governments are common in Latin America where drug lords are literary running a number of governments by virtue of funding them. Like in the case of Mexico, such drug dealers have executed many civilians and government officers opposed to their activities and considered as their enemies using their mercenaries (Gootenberg, 2008).
Such governments call themselves politically liberal; to them they are serving the best interests of the citizens. Liberalism, while aiming at protecting individual liberties and private properties, it should go beyond just looking at the intra-state relations and focus also in the international relations. This is because governments do not operate in vacuums but rather, they operate in an international environment which determines it affairs to a great extent.
However, it must be noted that different states will either use liberal or non-liberal means to achieve these components of liberalism. To be considered completely politically independent, a state should be able to act autonomously, and with equality and neutrality. Thus, liberalism goes beyond just the name, it is the component, the action that qualifies the name. The name should be defined by the actions and not the name defining the actions that ought to be associated with it (Hindess, 2004).
These components of liberalism and the numerous different arguments in the philosophical world point give credence to the existence of a relation between narco-governance and political liberalism. The very nature of political liberalism; it is almost amorphous and has many facets, gives the society to define it in their own terms.
An autonomous state capable of self governance is considered to politically liberal. Such states may or may not prohibit certain activities even they might be harmful to the general public. Narco-governments would be considered to be politically liberal as they permit drug dealing and illegal drugs usage even though they are harmful to the general public. A politically liberal state would exhibit neutrality in its actions and decisions; never imposing ideas, rules or regulations on its subjects (Hinojosa 2007).
The subjects of such states have the freedom to choose what is good or bad for them. Contrastingly, citizens of narco-governments usually lack this liberty in most cases as the drug lords usually have the final say for the citizens’ choice of life should always favor their drug businesses (Guattari, 2006). The concept of equality is one of the three pillars of political liberalism as champions for the equal treatment of all citizens as equals.
This is a right that usually protected and spelt out in the laws governing those states. Narco-governance works on the premises of creating an unequal society by creating an economic vacuum. Thus, citizens of such states rarely enjoy the equality, a state propagated by law.
Since autonomy and equality are antagonistic, most narco-governments usually go for autonomy over equality. Hence, while these narco-governments would argue that they are liberal, they are only using a sprinkle of liberalism concepts. These show the relationship that exists between narco-governance and political liberalism.
How and when have U.S. domestic politics, rather than Latin American security problems, shaped narco-governmental geopolitics (narco-geo-politics) in Latin America?
Most people would cite Latin America countries’ security problems as the major player in the narco-geo-politics in Latin America. While this is true to some extent it is important to note that the problem of narco-geo-politics of Latin America is also influenced by other external factors such as domestic politics in the United States of America.
Due to their foreign policies which govern and determine how the United States government relates with her neighbors and the global community at large, the domestic politics and political parties’ policies and ideologies in relation to foreign policies have for a long time shaped the narco-governmental geopolitics of states within Latin America including Colombia and Mexico.
Between 1998 and 2000 the United States government used billions of dollars in Colombia as donor’s fund aimed for economic development with the mutual agreement that Colombia would lay down effective policies to curb drug trade (Walker, 1997). Such actions usually infuriate the local drug lords who feel their country is being dominated over.
Hence, when such countries fail to honor their pledge of cooperation in dealing with drug trafficking, the funding is withdrawn leaving the government dangling precariously and at the mercy of drug lords.
The drug dealers may form rebel groups such as FARC to fight the government which they view as puppets of foreign powers (Marsh, 2004; Hinojosa, 2007). Such foreign policies and aid if withdrawn leave the countries at the mercy of the drug dealers who may take over or even decide to fund the government budget while favoritism in return.
Americans have been accused of insubordination and violation of sovereignty of other Latin American countries like Mexico where they have organized secret sting operations. Such operations are usually organized against drug cartels by the United States government and are usually carried out by their personnel.
These operations curtailed the cordial relationship between the United States of America and Mexico as the Mexicans felt disrespected. This lack of trust opens a leeway for the drug lords to warm their way to the heart of the government promising economic assistance to fill the void left by the withdrawal of American aid.
This causes a shift in the narco-geo-politics of such countries. The United States of America applied a seemingly selective treatment of captured drug dealers where they only extradited foreign nationals to their countries where they know they will face more harsh punishment than in their naïve countries.
On the other hand, their citizens or citizens of would be friendly states would leave to serve their sentences in countries where they were arrested as the sentence would less harsh. This would shape the narco-geo-politics in Latin America as the drug cartels may take advantage and seize the government (Youngers & Rosin, 2005).
Political parties in the United States have ideologies and foreign affairs policies. When elected, the leaders would implement their policies which sometimes may not favor a cordial relationship with Latin American countries. The Congress may pass bills which may strain the relationship between the United States of America and other Latin America nations (Rasky, 1988).
Some Congressional resolutions invasion of other Lain America countries may only work into the hands of drug dealers. The strained relationship due to United States domestic politics may create a political situation that may shape the narco-government geopolitics in Latin America (Francis, 1989).
How have the economic benefits of the coca-cocaine commodity chain depended on, rather than simply been policed by, practices of narco-governance?
Narco-governance uses a series of allegations and propaganda to encourage the peasants, miners and the elite in the society to engage in the trade of coco and cocaine. The drug cartels have hoodwinked the peasants and the miners and convinced them the foreign countries such as United States wanted just to oppress them hence they should stand and fight for their right which is also their economic source.
Hence, the have created a ready market for the coco-cocaine commodity since they have illegalized internationally. Thus, the coco-cocaine commodity chain depends on the market provided for by the narco-government. The narco-government has also provided trafficking routes where the coco and cocaine can be transported outside the country without detection (Friesendorf, 2005). To achieve this, a corruption culture has been cultivated among police officers and other government officials (Abraham & Schendel, 1992).
The narco-governance also ensures those involved in the coco and cocaine trade including the famers are protected either by the government assigned police officers or by the mercenaries owned by the drug lords (Healy, 1999). Many people who oppose drug dealing have lost their lives due to illegal drug trade with some being killed at the order of the drug lords who fund the government (Foucault, 2003).
The coca-cocaine economy has also benefited from the narco-governance practices through creation of a free society hence a free market for selling the products. The narco-governments have always championed for their liberalism hence they have formulated policies and laws that have made their countries free states where the rule of law is applied sparingly. The net effect of this is a country where drug dealing is an open secret protected by the government (Andreas, 2002).
In conclusion, narcotics trade in Latin America and other countries is serious issues with a global proportion hence should be tackled at a global stage using the available local processes and avenues. It is a problem that is deep rooted in our societies today and even in the past as it has become a major player in the politics played at the international level. Many of these narco-governments have captured the imaginations of their subjects by allowing them to grow coco and export cocaine as a source of the much needed income.
They have made drug trafficking into law and used it to ensure the citizens buy drugs (Andreas, 2002). Narco-governance has spread its roots in our society today that the perpetrators of this kind of governance have termed it liberalism.
However, it is important to note that the problem of narco governance does not step from the citizens and the country. There are some other external factors which shape the narco-geo-politics of such nations. Thus to completely stem it out of the society, it is necessary to block these loopholes that might lead to narco-governance.
Abraham, I. & Schendel, W. (1992).Illicit Flows and Criminal Things. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
Andreas, P. (2002).When Policies Collide: Market Reform, Market Prohibition and the Narcotization of the Mexican Economy. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Foucault, M. (2003). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books.
Friesendorf, C. (2005). Squeezing the balloon: United States Air Interdiction and the Restructuring of the South American Drug Industry in the 1990s”. Journal of Crime, Law & Social Change, 44: 35–78.
Healy, K. (1999). Coca, Cocaine and the Bolivian Reality. New York: State University of New York Press.
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