Thursday, September 5, 2013

A New Narco State?

Dino Bouterse on his way to a court
hearing in 2003. (Photo: BBC News)
Since 1999, Dino Bouterse, son of Surinam's one-time dictator Dési Bouterse, has been under investigation for drug trafficking by police in Europe, Brazil and the United States. In 2005, a Surinam court convicted him for narcotrafficking.

But none of that prevented him from allegedly continuing drug trafficking. And, when his father - himself convicted in absentia by a Dutch court for drug trafficking and under investigation for a massacre of opponents during his 1980s dictatorship - was elected president of Surinam in 2012, he considered his son the best candidate to lead an anti-terrorism unit.

Whatever the younger Bouterse's anti-terrorism accomplishments, he appears to have continued focusing on the drug trade. The other week, US officials arrested him in Panama on drug traffickng charges and he is now facing charges in a Manhattan court.

Desi Bouterse, Surinam president,
ex-dictator and convicted
drug trafficker. 
Dino Bouterse, 40, allegedly worked with FARC guerrillas to arrange cocaine flights from Colombia via Surinam to western Africa,where the drugs were exchanged for money and weapons for the guerrillas.

Meanwhile, Dino's father, Surinam's president, has just assumed the leadership of the UNASUR organization of nations.

The story of the two  Bouterses illustrates how vulnerable the government of a small, poor and corrupt nation is to drug traffickers. Or, rather, how enthusiastically some leaders will grab at drug money when given the chance.

It's happened before. In 1980 Gen. Luis Garcia Meza seized power in Bolivia in what has since become kniown as the 'cocaine coup' and, with help from ex-Nazis, turned the country into a narco state.

As long as nations are poor, corruption rife and drugs profitable, there will likely be more cocaine administrations.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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