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Narcos and corruption

“But it (war on drugs) can’t be won. It’ll never be won. At least not until people see it for what it is. Not until they know the truth.” – DEA agent Javier Peña, Narcos season 3, episode 10


AT the base of any successful illegal trafficking, be it in the flesh or drug trade, is a cabal of corrupt elected politicians and bureaucrats. That is what agent Peña realized by the end of season 3. He had been fighting the government’s war on drugs which has long been bought and paid for by the drug cartels in Colombia.

In Narcos 3, the US Drug Enforcement Agency and Colombian government are hot on the trail of the Cali drug cartel led by the Rodriguez-Orjuela brothers. These drug traffickers were different from Pablo Escobar of the Medellin cartel in that they operate with precision like a multinational corporation.

“Another deal. A compromise. A charade. A way for governments who don’t give a s**t about the war they’re supposed to be fighting, to go on pretending they’re winning it,” Peña’s soliloquy at the season ender rued.

In the series, Peña was getting more and more frustrated since he couldn’t seem to pin down the Cali cartel. As it turned out, the cartel “owned” the Office of the President of Colombia.

Ironically, Ernesto Samper won the presidency by campaigning against cocaine trafficking with campaign funds paid for by the Cali cartel. Although Peña and the US Embassy in Colombia had a taped conversation between Miguel Rodriguez Orjuela and Samper and the ledger which proved the existence of offshore shell companies, they were not able to pin down Samper even for charges of collusion to traffic drugs.

My take away lesson on this particular TV series is that no matter how hard and bloody you fight against illegal drugs if the system in government is vulnerable to corruption, the war on drugs will never be won.

A case in point is the P6.4 billion worth of shabu that breezed through the Bureau of Customs. One can easily be confused with the smokescreens of those who do not want the truth to be out. Guilty people can and have always hidden behind technicalities and legal loopholes. But the fact of the matter is, a butt load of illegal drugs was able to enter the country from the People’s Republic of China.

Like what Peña did, one need only to examine the supply chain and its subsequent flow of grease money to understand that the bigger scourge gripping a country is not the drugs itself but the rampant corruption, the wheeling, and dealing, the compromises, the charades, in the very halls of power.

Until this administration realizes that, we will continue to witness bodies of young and old, mostly poor, pile up.

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About Cong Corrales

Before joining the Gold Star Daily, Cong worked as the deputy director of the multimedia desk of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and before that he served as a writing fellow of Vera Files. Under the pen name "Cong," Leonardo Vicente B. Corrales has worked as a journalist since 2008. Corrales has published news, in-depth, investigative and feature articles on agrarian reform, peace and dialogue initiatives, climate justice, and socio-economics in local and international news organizations, which which includes among others: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business World, MindaNews, Interaksyon.com, Agence France-Presse, Xinhua News Wires, Thomson-Reuters News Wires, UCANews.com, and Pecojon-PH.

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