Loves to the rhythm of cocaine

Hugo Marcelo Balderrama

What do Fidel Castro, Klaus Altmann Barbie, Gabriel García Márquez and Roberto Suarez Gómez have in common?

Apparently nothing. Well, the first was the Cuban dictator, the second a Nazi war criminal, the third won the Nobel Prize for literature, and the fourth was a Bolivian drug trafficker. But in the 1980s, these four men had something that united them: cocaine.

Everything goes back to November 16, 1979. On that occasion, Colonel Natusch Busch handed over the presidency of Bolivia to Deputy Lidia Gueiler Tejada, she was the first woman to assume that position.

The weak management of Mrs. Gueiler and the growth of the Democratic and Popular Union (a left-wing party) worried the upper echelons of the Bolivian Armed Forces. That feeling was transmitted by Klaus Altmann Barbie to Roberto Suarez Gómez.

The coup d’état of July 17, 1980 – which brought General Luis García Meza Tejada to power – had the financial support of the king of cocaine. However, as a result of North American pressure –perhaps also as a strategy to keep the business– García Meza betrayed his patron. However, Roberto Suarez monopolized the drug production business and created La Corporación.

The return of democracy in 1983 did not mean the end of La Corporación. Since at that time Roberto Suarez along with Pablo Escobar ―who in the long run would be the most dangerous drug trafficker in Colombia and the world― filled the United States with cocaine. Obviously, an operation of that size required strategic partners, including Fidel Castro and Gabriel García Márquez.
For Castro, drug trafficking was a weapon of revolutionary struggle. His reasoning was as follows: if the Yankees were stupid enough to consume drugs from Colombia and Bolivia, not only was this not their problem—at least until they discovered it—but it also served their revolutionary objectives, since the drugs corrupted and destabilized American society. Although along the way he accumulated a huge fortune not only from cocaine, but from having extracted millions of dollars in subsidies to the Soviets.

However, as the partnership with Pablo Escobar and Roberto Suarez was short-lived, and the Soviet Union was about to collapse, Fidel thought of new mechanisms to hold on to power.

That was one of the reasons for founding the Sao Paulo Forum. The new socialist brotherhood would allow him two things: First, to regroup the old and weakened left under new populist discourses (from indigenism to feminism). And second, to establish a network of narco-states to, in his own words, break through the US blockade.

The birth of the Sao Paulo Forum led to the establishment of dictatorships in Venezuela under Chavez, Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega, Ecuador under Rafael Correa, and Bolivia under Evo Morales. These regimes were soon structured as narco-states, whose main characteristics are the corruption of the security forces and the systematic violation of Human Rights.

For all this, the Sao Paulo Forum is not the object of study of Political Science, but of criminology. It is not politics, it is organized transnational crime from Havana.

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