For Colombia, cocaine is a product that is sold for profit in the United States. Mainstream political economy, let alone the other social sciences, has little to say about the process of extraction of surplus value in the production and distribution of cocaine, in other words, how cocaine is exploited for profit. The paper argues that the conventional framework, which locates profits generated from the cocaine trade in an economic model of crime shields a much deeper reality than simply ‘money laundering’ as a ‘legal problem.’ The central argument is that the cocaine trade in general, and the cocaine economy in particular, are a vital aspect of U.S. imperialism in the Colombian economic system. The paper tackles a critical problem: the place of cocaine in the re-colonization of Colombia – defined as ‘narcocolonialism’ – and the implications of the cocaine trade generally for U.S. imperialism in this context. The paper evaluates selected literature on the Colombian cocaine trade and offers an alternative framework underpinned by a political economy analysis drawn from Marx and Lenin showing that cocaine functions as an ‘imperial commodity’ – a commodity for which there exists a lucrative market and profit-making opportunity. It is also a means of capital accumulation by what could be termed, Colombia's comprador ‘narcobourgeoisie;’ dependent on U.S. imperialism. It is hoped that by analyzing cocaine with a Marxist interpretation and political economy approach, then future developments in understanding drugs in Colombia's complex political economy may be anticipated.
Villar, O. (2007), "U.S. Narcocolonialism? Colombian Cocaine and Twenty-First Century Imperialism", Zarembka, P. (Ed.) Transitions in Latin America and in Poland and Syria (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 97-128. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0161-7230(07)24003-9
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