Cocaine is a processed product which is derived from the coca leaf. The indigenous peoples in the mountains of South American countries like Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and such, have been chewing the leaf of the coca plant for centuries. It helps them to fight hunger, cold, and exhaustion.
In its processed form, cocaine is a white powder which is used for stamina and recreation purposes by those people all over the world who can afford it. Cocaine is expensive, and the most lucrative market for it is inside the cities of the largest economy in the world – the United States of America.
When cocaine is further processed and becomes crack cocaine, it produces an electrifying high when smoked, and it becomes an absolute, dehumanizing addiction. But when powder cocaine is sniffed through the nostrils, it can be used for many years without major problems, the important thing being that you have to be able to afford it. On Wall Street, where fortunes are made and lost in a single day, and the executives often work 18-20 hour days, it is said that cocaine is practically indispensable. Cocaine enables you to work longer hours under stress. On the recreational side, cocaine is totally in demand at upscale American parties, because cocaine enables more extended, more satisfying sex encounters.
I would say, just off the top, that cocaine took over the American market in the 1970s. The 1960s had been a time when wealthy American young people began smoking a lot of marijuana, but by 1972, when the movie Superfly was released, cocaine was creating the excitement. (After World War II, heroin, which is derived from the poppy plant, became big in some American cities. The story of heroin is a major aspect of Part I of The Godfather movies.) Like most American phenomena, the cocaine excitement travelled down to Belize, and it began to grow at a disco called “The Melting Pot” which was being run near the Belize City Swing Bridge by two black Americans – an attorney named Ben Darden and his sidekick, whom I remember only as “Willie.” (His last name may have been Trapp, but I’m really not sure.)
Darden and Willie were busted and deported for exporting cocaine inside of frozen lobsters, so the story goes, but the market for cocaine in America continued to explode in growth. It was relatively easy to get cocaine into Belize from Colombia, and once you could then get that cocaine into the United States, you would be making maybe twenty five times the profit Belizeans were making off marijuana production and trafficking.
At this time now, between 1975 and 1978, say, I was inside the power structure of the ruling People’s United Party (PUP). I was only on the fringes, mind you, but I was inside enough to hear a little talk about a Colombian cocaine trafficker named Carlos Lehder.
Carlos Lehder was big before Pablo Escobar. Lehder was the one who came up with the idea of flying cocaine in planes into the United States. It was already being done with marijuana in single flights, but Lehder wanted a territory he could control and where he could build airports, and use as a kind of permanent transshipment point. My understanding is that Lehder took a long look at Belize. I can’t say if he came here himself, or if he sent a trusted associate to examine the Belizean landscape, topographically and politically, but there was this talk about Lehder. (Eventually, he decided to buy a caye in the Bahamas which he used as the base for his cocaine flights. According to Wikipedia, Lehder is still in an American penitentiary.)
My point is that Lehder felt he had enough money, or he was generating enough recurrent revenues, to buy Belize. Dig it. The cocaine market in the United States kept growing by leaps and bounds. Americans couldn’t get enough of the fabulous white powder. The problem was that their government had declared cocaine an illegal substance earlier in the twentieth century. Declaring a commodity illegal which is in heavy demand by your citizens, increases its value exponentially while spawning cartels which have to use increasing levels of violence to protect their illegal product and trade.
Last week I explained to you that the Right Honorable George Price was a man who knew how to keep his mouth shut, and he also knew a lot more about the real world than he let on. The big marijuana people in Belize began to “diversify” into cocaine, where the profits were much greater and the violence more deadly. This is happening in the aftermath of the Lehder inquiries into the Belize situation, and now you have this group of Belizeans who are becoming more and more wealthy, thus they are becoming more and more influential socio-politically. In Belize, people don’t ask where you got your money: just bring it.
This is happening at the same time Belize is making its final push towards the PUP’s Holy Grail of political independence, following their 1979 general election victory. To make matters more complicated, the Ronald Reagan government in the United States decides to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government which had come to power in Nicaragua in 1979, but the U.S. Congress refuses to approve financing for this criminal venture. The Reagan government goes outside of the legal, and a system is devised to move cocaine from South America, through Manuel Noriega’s Panama, into the United States for distribution in South Central Los Angeles. The proceeds are to help the so-called contras overthrow the Sandinistas. Belizean officials are recruited to allow Belize’s international airport to be used for some of these Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) flights. In other words, crazy things are going on around Mr. Price, and there are people fairly close to him, or let’s just say people he knows, who cannot resist the big money from the dope.
And yet, with Belize now independent, Mr. Price’s power is greater than ever before. He is the head of state of a sovereign nation. The problem is that there is so much money to be made catering to the drug demands of American consumers, just a few hundred miles away from Belize in a market penetrable by land, sea, and air, that Mr. Price’s old “Wake up and work” mantra has become history. Everybody in Belize now wants to be Superfly.
I believe that drugs, ultimately, will destroy America if nuclear war does not. In the meantime, however, the American lust for drugs has derailed Belize’s journey to real nationhood. The murderous gang wars in our population centers can be traced back to the drug trade in Belize, which is fuelled by the demand in the cities of the great America.
Mr. Price did not have to yield power in 1984. But he knew something had to be done about the incipient insanity he was seeing around him. You can’t build a nation on drug trafficking. But how can you stop your citizens from investing in drugs when that’s the product that the Americans want more than any other? The biggest money we get from America is from their citizens who want to use drugs, and in response to that drug money, the American government sends our Belize government some money for them to beat down those Belizeans, mostly the ones at the bottom of the food chain, who are responding to the demands of American consumers.
So, who’s the sinner – the American consumer or the Belizean supplier? How about the bankers who clean up the dirty money? What about the attorneys for the big boys and the politicians in their three-piece suits taking drug money to buy votes? If you can’t figure out who are the sinners, we know for sure who are the victims: the young, dead bodies go to Lord’s Ridge and the young, live ones go to Kolbe. At the end of the day, Jack, all it is, is Belize’s version of genocide.