Drug trafficking spawns a culture of undefeated, psychotic violence The Freddie Kissoon column
Kaieteur News
November 5, 2006

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There is the intellectual argument of how important is the drug trade to the survival of struggling economies. In many impoverished, developing countries there is the unique experience of having a big part of the economy fuelled by the overflow of financial transactions that emerge from drug trafficking.

This intellectual debate takes two forms and I will divide them under the heading of the economic versus the political. Let's look at the political problematic first. Many scholars from the developing world take the position that the American fight against drug trafficking in the Third World is not only opportunistic and selfish but in fact has an exploitative content. Ten years ago, a former Attorney-General of Columbia told the press that Columbia was fighting an American problem for the Americans with Columbian money.

In Guyana, our President had some frustrating words to say about the attitudes he got from the Americans when several requests were made to them about assistance to combat the traffickers here. Many Third World analysts say that drug trafficking in the developing country is an American problem because of a limitless market in the US but the US is far from generous.

Attached to this analysis is a formidable argument. Where are the people in the US that buy the cocaine? Guyana, like many other transshipment points, merely sends the cocaine to the US where the buyers take over. Now commonsense comes in. If a Guyanese sender can make money and build mansions in Guyana from merely shipping the thing to the US, then the buyer in the US has to have mansions of his own with his private yacht and golf course. I have seen people like that in Florida. There are some extraordinarily wealthy folks in Florida whose affluence is decadently manifested and they are not big investors whose listings can be read on Wall Street. How many of them have the DEA caught?

Let's turn to the economic problematic. This thesis postulates that we live in a world where the realist explanation of international relations is water-proof. The Cold War is over, the Third World has lost its geo-strategic, geo-political value for the US and the poor countries either produce or perish. Since their legitimate produce cannot find a place on the world market, they will survive by acting as trans-shippers for cocaine traffickers.

In a globalised world where resources are dwindling and competition for those receding goods are fierce, these analysts argue that the Third World has been abandoned by the West.

Whichever of the two theses you accept, drug trafficking in certain poor countries can be the deadliest visitor those societies can ever have. No impoverished country with a small population can survive if drug trafficking is concretized. Maybe Guyana is facing its worst nightmare since earlier times when it was named British Guiana with the increasing power of drug lords here. Despite all the racial and political problems this country has experienced, it is the empowerment of the drug barons that will destroy it. It would seem that the Americans have now turned their attention to Guyana's drug situation. If that is so, it can offer Guyana the escape door from the pathway to perdition.

I do not agree with any of the theories that defend drug trafficking in Guyana. I have listened to many analyses that point to the fact that these people are helping to keep the economy alive. They tell me look at the construction industry. I tell them look at the psychotic killers that are in control of Guyana. The worst thing about drug trafficking in a struggling post-colonial state with a small population is the barons replace the state. The barons penetrate the security forces, the power establishment and the judicial system. The drug lords become the people who pull the strings. I have absolutely no hesitation in publishing my opinion that I know in Guyana this penetration exists.

One has to understand the essential cultural differences between state officials, police personnel, army officers and ruling politicians on the one hand, and cocaine moguls on the other. Public officials have been brought up in a culture of public service and public accountability, and the power of public opinion. No matter how renegade is a policeman, soldier, civil service or ruling politician, if they know that you are watching them as they park in the idle of the road, or urinate in a public corner or jump a red light, they will become defensive. They will be worried that you will expose them.

Drug traffickers operate with a different logic. They have absolute contempt for anyone who gets into their way. They are unstoppable; they are untouchable. They control the people in the society that have power; from public servants to ruling officials. These people will kill you and nothing will happen to them.

My honest advice to my friends in the media all the time is that they should not write exposing journalism about drug traffickers in this country. It is not that they may jeopardise their lives; they will. Herein lies the danger with drug trafficking. You may like the money that is pumped into the economy. You may like how the drug money provides employment and how it stimulates the construction industry. But the integrity of a country is destroyed. Lawlessness and psychotic violence take over.

I have evidence of the penetration I have referred to above. But I will not reveal that knowledge to anyone. I will leave you with an example to reflect on if you think drug money is helping this country. It is an incident I have never revealed to anyone until this day in the form of this column. We use to have a corner in KN called “Shame on You.” We at KN would snap any shameful action we see in Guyana. One day, I came out of the ATM booth of the Republic Bank head office on New Market Street. I saw this expensive SUV parked in the middle of the road.

The driver let someone out to go to the ATM. The windows were dark. I went into my car, took out my digital and was ready to snap. This man came of the vehicle. He had a huge hand gun that was shining in the sun. These were his exact words to me. “You are big in this f…. country but I will show you who is f…. bigger. Take the photo and I will blow you away. You wouldn't live to see who is f…. bigger. Go back into your f….car, Freddie Kissoon.”

There were ATM users that saw what happened. So did one bank guard. I couldn't tell my family about the occurrence because I didn't want to depress them. I thought about informing Glenn Lall because I know he gets furious when bullies attack KN functionaries. But I felt I should not get Glenn involved. I came close to ringing Winston Felix. One thing deterred me. Felix was in the middle of the taped telephone saga and the Roger Khan search drama.

I thought long and hard about going to Felix because I had the car number. But I felt that I may further endanger my life. I am saying here now without fear of contradiction – no PPP big wig, no PNC politician, no police officer, no GDF personnel, no rich, mainstream businessman, no top civil servant would have done that to me. For the mere snapping of a car parked in the middle of the road? What if I had seen this person drive away after hitting a pedestrian? Forget about the money they pour into the economy. What is most frightening about drug lords is not only that they love to kill. It is who can touch them when they do so.