Sunday, October 28, 2007

Don't blame Venezuela

By Libby

Hack 'reporter' Juan Forero has long been a overpaid steno for government propaganda and a willing apologist for drug war atrocities. He delivers the goods today for the Bush administration's ongoing campaign to vilify Venezuela and its president and excuse their policy failures on the drug front. And spare me the harangues over whether Chavez is a canny populist or crazy Marxist. It's beside the point. What is clear is the US intends to use him as scapegoat to excuse their own policy failures when they accuse him of failing to stem the tide of drugs coming through his country.

Counter-drug officials in Washington say Venezuela's failure comes just as increased pressure on cartels in Colombia -- part of a seven-year, $5 billion counternarcotics campaign funded by the United States -- is forcing traffickers out. The campaign has led to the arrest of major trafficking suspects, including Diego Montoya, the Norte del Valle cartel leader arrested in September.

The $5 billion spent on Plan Colombia was thrown down the drain. All the arrests and eradication efforts haven't dented the supply on the US streets. All our US aid has done is underwrite a civil conflict that still tears at the social fabric of that country. It's displaced hundreds of thousands of indigenous Colombians. Herbicidal bombing has sickened the people and destroyed the arability of their traditional lands forcing the peasants into encroaching on formerly pristine tracts of national forests. It's fueled government corruption and funded paramilitary groups who then have been enlisted to protect the property of US corporations. What it hasn't done is stem production of cocaine.

Venezuela most certainly harbors drug lords, but so does Colombia and Mexico and all of the countries used as conduits for the trade. I doubt that it has contributed to some explosive growth in the industry. The market is driven by demand and not by government interference, which is just factored in as the cost of doing business. Venezuela is just being named as the villian here because the administration lost Mexico as their fall guy when they signed on to the new US anti-drug initiative.

The simple truth is the war on some drugs is meant to be waged, not won, in order to profit defense contractors and bureaucrats who specialize in prohibition. Futhermore, there is ample evidence that the CIA is a major player in the trade. If they 'won' the war, they would lose their best source of clandestine funding for operations they prefer to keep under the radar of the people.

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