Cocaine Histories and Diverging Drug War Politics in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru

  • Paul Gootenberg Stony Brook University
Keywords Keywords, Cocaine, Coca Leaf, Drug Policy, Drug War, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru Cocaine, Peru




 This essay in comparative history examines the political responses rising across the Andes in the wake of cocaine’s current “shift south” away from the U.S.-Colombian axis that drove the hemispheric “drug war” of the last four decades.  Bolivia’s response is analyzed as the nationalist “coca si, cocaine no” control strategy; Colombia’s response as a state-building quest for sustainable “post-drug war” control; and Peru’s (once again the top exporter of illicit cocaine) as a politically passive “cocaine denial.”  In synthetic comparisons, these trajectories, rather than just reflect the “failures” or local born costs of the U.S. war against cocaine, relate to distinctive longer historical relationships to both coca leaf and illicit cocaine in each Andean nation, and the social, political, and racial geographies left by cocaine histories.       

Author Biography

Paul Gootenberg, Stony Brook University
Chair of History; SUNY Distinguished Professor of History & Sociology
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