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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: Colombia -- The Unraveling of a Narco-State?
Former Venezuelan Minister of Ministers Beatrice Rangel on how the narco-state is using the courts to go after one of its most important adversaries in President Uribe.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

News of the Supreme Court decision to house arrest former President Alvaro Uribe Velez sent shockwaves throughout the world. President Uribe not only is the single most influential political leader in Colombia but also the most visible head of conservatism in a country and indeed a continent that seems to have been taken by left leaning ideologies.

The move not only deepens the political divide in Colombia, but also raises doubts about the country's future in terms of political stability and successful investment destination.

In fact, Colombia has for too long a time has been under siege by organized crime. And a cursory review of Uribe's case raises doubts about whether the interests of illicit business have not won the battle. Indeed, judicial reports giving ground to the case reveal a nation where the political elite, the military, the business community and the police and even President Uribe's family are penetrated by the narcotics business whether through financial gain or corruption. And these interests seem to be playing an active role in the Uribe case.
As president Alvaro Uribe not only extradited drug kingpins to the U.S. but also reduced to a minimum coca plantations while devising an aggressive military strategy aimed at retaking control of the territory occupied by FARC and ELN.

It made him the least favorite politician to drug businesses.

His policies indeed triggered a reduction of the narcotrafficker gains for the myriad small and medium sized cartels that took over the trade in the aftermath of the fall of the infamous Medellin and Cali Cartels.

As the Duque administration pushes for reduction of coca production and circles on trading routes, the interests behind the drug business are regrouping to destroy any potential successor to President Duque that could continue these policies.

And while on the center of right space no potential follower has yet emerged, the consensus is that Uribe will be once again the kingmaker.

Hence, destroying Uribe facilitates expansion of the drug business interest, as there will not be any other living politician to carry the political and intellectual weight of Alvaro Uribe.

Disposing of Uribe dries the well of public policies that would effectively fight the drug trade phagocytosis of Colombia's state.

The new generation of drug leaders has achieved higher business standards than their predecessors through efficient management of the supply chain, internationalization and the opening of new markets such as those of Asia and the Pacific.

Today, the cocaine trade is flourishing like never before.

Cocaine production in Colombia reached a record 1,379 metric tons in 2017. Agreements with the Mexican Cartels, supply management with coca producers in Bolivia and a low-profile demeanor have paid high dividends.

No one is about to let a party popper run afoul.

Colombia has cultivated support to the rule of law and has up to now been a firm partner of the U.S. and liberal democracies in the fight against terrorism. But the Uribe case seems to point to the unbundling of this civic culture, as drug interests further penetrate state institutions initiating the stage pf phagocytosis where institutions are mere platforms to launch criminal activities.

Should this be what is behind the Uribe case, Latin America will soon host three narco states and one crime city.

All in a single hemisphere shared by the United States of America.

Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.

For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.

You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.


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