Liberation Or Gangsterism Pt 3

In the concluding part of this three part series we are offered a stark reminder of the scale of greed and corruption involved in the drugs trade, a clear analysis of the impact on poverty and a reading recommendations!

By Russell “Maroon” Shoatz/4StruggleMag

Peep the Game

South Amerikan cocaine replaced French Connection and CIA controlled Southeast Asian/Golden Triangle-grown heroin as the drug of choice in the early 1980’s. Remember Miami Vice? Well, as might be expected, this country’s government, intelligence agencies and large banks immediately began a struggle to control this new trade. Remember: control-not get rid of-in complete contrast to their lying propaganda projects like the War on Drugs! Thus, they were in fact dealing with-not fighting-the South Amerikan governments, militaries and large landowners who controlled the raising, processing and shipping of the cocaine. (For a few years, however, the latter themselves had to battle a few independent drug lords, most notably Pablo Escobar Ochoa and his Medellin Cartel).

In this country at that time the youth gangs had next to nothing to do with the cocaine trade, which was then primarily servicing a middle and upper class-and white-clientele. The traffic employed a few old-school big time hustlers along with some Spanish-speaking wholesalers, who also had their own crews to handle matters. Although after the fact, the Hip hop cult movie favorites Scarface and New Jack City are good descriptions of that period, albeit they both-purposely-left out the dominant role that the U.S. government and intelligence agencies played in controlling things. All right, I know you’re down with all of that-and love it!

So let’s move on.

In the middle 1980’s the U.S. began backing a secret war designed to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government that had fought a long and bloody civil war to rid Nicaragua of its U.S.-sponsored dictator (Somoza) in 1979. But after being exposed to the world, the U.S. Congress forbade then-president Reagan from continuing this secret war. Like a lot of U.S. presidents, however, he just ignored Congress and had the CIA raise the money, recruit the mercenaries and buy or steal the military equipment to continue the war. Consequently, that’s how and why crack and the mayhem it’s caused came upon us. Here, however, you won’t see Hollywood and TV giving up the raw. With few exceptions like Black director Bill Dukes’ ‘Deep Cover’, starring Laurence Fishburn, and ‘Above the Law’ with Steven Segal, you have to search hard to see it portrayed so clearly. Later I’ll explain why.

Anyway, most people have heard that crack was dumped into South Central Los Angeles in the mid-’80’s-along with an arsenal of military-style assault rifles that would make a First Wave BPP member ashamed of how poorly equipped s/he was. Needless to say, the huge profits from the crack sales, coupled with everyone being financially strapped, magnified the body count! And, since crack was also so easy to manufacture locally and so dirt cheap, just about anybody in the hood could get into the business. Gone were the old days of a few big-time hustlers, except on the wholesale level.

But, make no mistake about it, the wholesale cocaine sold for the production of crack was fully controlled and distributed by selected CIA-controlled operatives.

So, to all of you dawgs who have been bragging about how big you are/were, a top-to-bottom organization chart would in fact look something like this:

  • At the top would be the president: Ronald Reagan;
  • then former CIA director George Bush, Sr.;
  • the National Security Advisor;
  • Secretary of State;
  • major banking executives;
  • Colonel Oliver North;
  • General Secord;
  • arms dealers;
  • mercenary pilots;
  • South and Central Amerikan government and military leaders, including Escobar and the Medellin Cartel originally;
  • U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol officers;
  • state and local police, and county sheriffs and their deputies, and their successors in office;
  • and at the bottom of the barrel: YOU DAWG!

Now I know that you already knew in your hearts that there were some big dawgs over you, but I bet you never imagined the game came straight out of the White House, or that you were straight up pawns on the board. If that sounds too wild, then tell me why it’s harder to find any government, CIA, military or bankers, like George Bush, Sr., and his crew, in prison, than it is to win the lottery? Yeah, they double-crossed Noriega, Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, and made Oliver North do some community service, but that’s all. The real crime lords-the government, military, CIA and banking dons-all got away. Finally, and only after Congresswoman Maxine Waters made a stink about it, was the CIA forced to do  two investigations and post on its official website their findings together with an admission of being a drug dealer.

Naw dawg, y’all were played! Face it.

That’s what happened to you O.G.’s from the ’80’s. But as Morpheus said in The Matrix, let me “show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”. Gradually the U.S. government was forced to crack down on the cocaine coming through Florida, but by then the South Amerikan cartels and their government and military allies had found new routes through Mexico. At first the the members of the Mexican underworld were just middlemen; but quickly recognizing a golden opportunity, they essentially seized control of most of the trade between South Amerika and the U.S.They forced the South Amerikans into becoming junior partners who were responsible only for growing and processing, the cheaper the better. The Mexicans now purchased mountains of cocaine for transshipment and smuggling into the U.S. wholesale market, resulting in oil and automotive industry-type profits.

One might wonder why the South Amerikans-powerful players would go for a deal like that. As ever the answers can found in the Machiavellian and serpentine maneuverings of the United States government and its poor Mexican counterpart. You see, in the 1980’s the Mexican government was overseeing an economy that was so bad, that for all practical purposes, it was bankrupt. Indeed, the U.S. and and its underlings in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) were forced periodically to give the Mexican government millions upon millions in loans, in return for unfair trading concessions, in order to prop it up with the economy.

The U.S. was then and is now extremely vulnerable to conditions in Mexico:

because common sense and past experience has told its rulers that the worse things became in Mexico, the more conditions would force its already dirt poor majority to find a way to enter the U.S. to find a means to feed themselves and their families. And the U.S. could not keep prevailing upon the IMF and WB to lend Mexico more money-especially since the U.S. ruling classes saw another way temporarily to plug up the hole in their control of matters in the international financial world. Thus, another unholy alliance was formed. This one was between the U.S. government, CIA, State Department, banks, and the other usual suspects on one side; and their Mexican counterparts-including their first fledgling cartels-on the other, with the South Amerikans now in a junior partnership role.

However, I don’t want to give the impression that it was arranged diplomatically, all neat and tidy. Far from that! No, it evolved through visionaries amongst the usual suspects, putting their ideas before other select insiders and working to craft an unwritten consensus. It was the same way that they along with Cuban exiles in Florida-had used the earlier cocaine trade to fuel the growth around Miami. Only this time it would be Mexico, a much more pressing and unstable situation. It was recognized by all parties that Mexico’s underworld would eventually land in the driver’s seat due to its ability to take the kind of risks called for, its geographical proximity to the U.S. border and, most important, its strong desire to avoid confronting the U.S. and Mexican governments as Pablo Escobar had done.

Mexican Underworld

Thus, the members of the Mexican underworld were more than willing to guarantee that most of their drug profits would be pumped back into the moribund Mexican economy through large building projects, upgrading the tourist industry, big-time farming and other clearly national ventures. And, on the messy side, their gunmen were becoming experts at making reluctant parties fall into line by offering them a stark choice between gold or lead. Nevertheless, avoid thinking that the Mexican and South Amerikan underworld ever became anything but hired hands of the big dawgs in the United States government and their partners in the banking industry, who always remained in a position to destroy their underlings’ smuggling and money laundering operations through tighter control of U.S. borders and/or by making it extremely difficult to launder the mountains of small-denomination bills which the traffickers had to deal with.

In fact, that’s what happened when then-president George Bush, Sr., ordered the invasion of Panama, which was/is a major offshore money laundering hub, after hired hand Gen. Manuel Noriega had become unruly in 1989. Plus, these hired hands would insure that their chosen corrupt politicians would always win in Mexico’s elections by distributing the planeloads of money that the South Amerikan gangsters and government/military partners would make available as overhead. But more important for the United States, a major part of the proceeds would be pumped into the Mexican economy in order to forestall the looming bankruptcy.

Consequently by the middle 1990’s the Mexican underworld had established the superpowerful Gulf, Juarez, Guadalajara, Sinaloa and Tijuana cartels. Moreover, the underworld had consolidated its power by not only controlling who all were elected to key political posts in Mexico, but had also perfected the art of bribing key local, state and regional police heads as well as strategic generals in Mexico’s armed forces. Check out the movies Traffic, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Antonio Banderas/Selma Hayek’s Desperado. Once again, after the fact, you’ll see Hollywood making money by spilling the beans. But you should not let the stunt work lull you into thinking there’s no substance to the plots!

Remember: Mexico’s cartels wouldn’t be able to function without the collaboration and protection from the highest levels within the U.S. establishment.

Just as the CIA has openly admitted it was a drug merchant during an earlier period, you can believe nothing has changed-except partners! The hilarious part is that none of the wannabe real gangstas in the U.S. know that in reality they’re low-paid, low level CIA flunkies without pensions or benefits; or they can’t wait until they get out of prison to become undercover government agents-slingin’ crack. Alas, most people think it’s crazy to believe that the government of the U.S. would allow its cities and small towns to be flooded with cocaine from South Amerika. Even the wannabe gangstas don’t really believe that. They prefer to think that such ideas are good for conspiracy junkies and cling to the illusion that they are more than just pawns on the chessboard.

Further, if one does not get beyond the idea that this whole thing was just a plot to destroy the Black and Brown peoples-a favorite, though shortsighted theory-there’s no way to see just how deep the drug game really is. I repeat: the main objective was to pump billions of dollars into the Mexican economy in oder to avoid a complete meltdown and the subsequent fleeing to the U.S. of sixty or more million Mexicans out of its ninetyplus million inhabitants. This would have been a crisis that would have dwarfed the numbers who are just beginning to make their presence known!

Actually, the big dawgs in the U.S. probably didn’t know just how they were gonna control the fallout that would inevitably accompany their cocaine/crack tax. They routinely tax alcohol, gambling (from the lotteries to the casinos), and even prostitution in certain areas, don’t they? So yeah, it was a clandestine operation to use cocaine to rescue Mexico and stave off an economically induced invasion of the U.S. by its destitute populace.

The Mexican people, especially its Indigenous population, were made poverty-stricken by 500 years of colonialism, slavery, peonage, neo-colonialism and the theft of one-third of their country by the United States in the 19th century.

Sadly, though, our First Wave’s degeneration into the glamorization of gangsterism, the Second Wave’s hunger for respect and recognition that was fueling the senseless gang carnage, the Hip Hop generation’s ability to provide the youth with vicarious fantasies to indulge their senses with the hypnotic allure of the temporary power that the drug game could bring them-led the youth in the United States back to emulating the First Wave’s Superfly and Scarface days. Others also see that: My theory is that nine times out of ten, if there’s a depression, more a social depression than anything, it brings out the best art in Black people. The best example is Reagan and Bush gave us the best years of hip hop…Hip hop is created thanks to the conditions that crack set: easy money but a lot of work, the violence involved, the stories it produced-crack helped birth hip hop.

Now, I’m part conspiracy theorist because you can’t develop something that dangerous and it not be planned. I don’t think crack happened by accident…Crack offered a lot of money to the inner city youth who didn’t have to go to college. Which enabled them to become businessmen. It also turned us into marksmen. It also turned us comatose. (Ahmir Thompson, aka Quest Love, “The Believer”, in Never Drank the Kool-Aid, op. cit.; also, “The Believer-Interview with Ahmir Thompson“).  With the deft moves of a conjurer, the big dawgs in the U.S. seized upon all of this and began to nudge these elements around on the international chess board-within their giant con game. Moreover, these big dawgs in the United States had very little choice where to start their triage in order to gain some relief from their manufactured domestic crisis.

I’ll tell you why.

Cocaine in its powder and crack forms is so addictive that the cultures that use them regularly-the rich and famous, the Hollywood Set, corporate executives, lawyers, doctors, weekenders, entertainers, athletes, college kids, suburbanites, hoodrats, hustlers, pipers, etc.-bring a guaranteed demand! In most ways, it could be argued, the effect has been the same as with alcohol and tobacco, which have never been successfully suppressed in the U.S. It follows then that despite all of their propaganda about Just Say No and the bogus War on Drugs, the big dawgs never had any intention of even trying to eradicate the use of cocaine. In fact, crack had turned their lower class neighborhoods into lucrative mainstays of the big dawgs’ alternative taxing scheme At the same time, however, the Black and Brown communities were becoming major headaches that if left unchecked could eventually evolve into a real strategic threat!

In contrast to the relatively tranquil non-Black/Brown communities, which used more, mostly powder, cocaine, the trade in the Black and Brown hoods and barrios was accompainied by an exponential increase of drug-related violence especially after the gangs got seriously involved. Now, as I’ve pointed out, the gangs were mainly just pursuing respect prior to getting involved with hustling drugs. And the carnage connected to that was not a real concern to the big dawgs. But the crack/cocaine trade was different from the earlier dumping of heroin in those communities which was accompanied by the comparatively isolated violence of the Black Mafia-style groups. That violence, though terrifying, was also more selective. The more widespread availability of crack and assault weapons led the big dawgs to understand that if they didn’t aggressively deal with the ultra-violent inner city drug gangs, the latter would eventually move to consolidate their gains by forming South Amerikan and Mexican-style cartels. Afterward, they, like their Mexican forerunners, could gradually take over inner city politics for themselves once they realized that the money and power would not of themselves provide them with the kind of respect and dignity they sought.

To understand why not, just observe the rich and famous hip hop artists who continue to wild-out because they sitll lack the respect and dignity that comes with struggling for something other than money or power: in short, some type of (political or higher) cause.

Anyway, the hip hop generational favorite TV drama The Wire lays out the entire phenomenon pretty much as it had earlier played itself out in Baltimore and other urban areas. In fact, the fictional TV series derives its realness from an earlier long-running expose featured in a Baltimore newspaper (another after the fact but still useful piece of work to study). Indeed, the parts of that show which depict earlier years of the Black gangs getting deep into the crack trade clearly illustrate my points about the gangs evolving into proto-cartels-and then being triaged before maturing into real strategic threats, thereby leaving the crack trade intact.

That’s why “The Prison Industrial Complex” was formed!

It was set up as a tool to neutralize the Second Wave before its members woke up to the fact that, despite their money and power they were being used: played like suckers, a rub that the more astute big dawgs feared that money would not soothe. Thus, all of your draconian gun-related and mandatory sentencing laws were first formulated on the federal level, where most of the big dawgs have their power, and then forced upon most of the states. This was to insure that the Second Wave would never be able to consolidate any real power. Precisely because the latter were proving themselves to be such ruthless gangstas, in imitation of their Hollywood idols, coupled with the power they derived from their share of the undercover tax being extracted from their communities, the ruling classes took the position that they should be triaged before they got too big, a period which averaged from one to three years in a run, and that everything they acquired should be taken.

The martyred hip hop icon The Notorious B.I.G. put it all together in his classic song, rightly titled Respect:

Put the drugs on the shelf/Nah, I couldn’t see it/Scarface, King of New York/I wanna be it…Until I got incarcerated/kinda scary…Not able to move behind the steel gate/Time to contemplate/Damn, where did I fail?/All the money I stacked was all the money for bail. (“Biggie Smalls”, The New York Times,1994, in Never Drank the Kool-Aid, op. cit.)

Let’s get another thing straight!-like the angle that continues to have shortsighted individuals chasing ghosts about why powder cocaine and crack are treated so differently. In the big dawgs’ calculations, there is no reason to punish harshly the powder cocaine dealers and users in the same manner as the crack crowd.

Racism has not been the driving motive; rather it was the armed threat posed by these proto-cartels!

The big dawgs witnessed a clear example of what might come by way of the Jamaican Posses that cropped up in the Black communities. These young men from the Jamaican and Caribbean diaspora were also a consequensce of the degeneration of those regions’ lower classes’ attempts to throw off the economic and social effects of their former slavery and colonial oppression. Led by the socialist Michael Manley and inspired by the revolutionary music of Bob Nesta Marley (which can be glimpsed in the later movies, Marked for Death with Steven Segal, and Belly with DMX and Nas), the Jamaican Posses were the Black Mafia on steroids! Moreover, despite their quasi-religious nationalism and their ability to operate with heavily armed soldiers in the U.S. and the Caribbean, their ten thousand or so members were nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands in the wings of the Black and Brown communities!

The cry from the big dawgs’ mouthpieces in Congress was about the gunplay, not so much the drugs. What was not said, however, was the big dawgs’ anxieties about stopping these gunslingers before they got over their mental blocks about using their weapons against the police-or the system. Stop them while they’re hung up on imitating their Hollywood and Euro-Mafia icons who made a mantra out of not using their weapons against the police. Indeed, with a few exceptions, the Second Wave allowed itself to be disarmed and carted off to prison like pussycats! In addition, to appease some of the conservative segments in the U.S. which were upset about capitalism’s globalization drive, the big dawgs dangled the prospect of thousands of new jobs for the rural communities which were being destroyed by it (hence, the Prison Industrial Complex and its neo-slavery).

Therefore, we must struggle against the shortsighted idea that racism alone is the driving motive which has fueled the construction of the Prison Industrial Complex. Instead, if you do a follow-up and add your own research, you’ll be able to document the who, when, where and how the big dawgs set everything in motion; as well as how they continue to use us as pawns in their giant international con game.

Conclusion, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How can we salvage anything from how the people of the First and Second Waves allowed their search for respect and dignity to degenerate into gangsterism?
2. In what ways can we help the Next Wave avoid our mistakes?
3. What can we do to contribute to documenting who the real
big dawgs are behind the drug trade?
4. Why have they never been held accountable?
5. How come our families and communities have been the only ones to suffer?
6. How can we overcome our brainwashing?
7. How can we truly gain respect and dignity?
8. In what ways can we atone for our wrongs and redeem ourselves, families, and communities?
9. What are some ways to fight for restitution and reparations for all of those harmed by the government-imposed undercover drug tax?
10. How can we overturn the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and finally abolish legal slavery in the U.S.?

Once you answer those questions and begin to move to materialize your conclusions, then you will have made the choice between Liberation or Gangsterism: Freedom or Slavery.

By way of references here is a list of recommended reading:

1. The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon
2. We Want Freedom, by Mumia Abu Jamal
3. Assata: An Autobiography, Assata Shakur
4. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story, by Elaine Brown
5. Blood in My Eye, by George Jackson
6. We Are Our Own Liberators: On The BLA, by J. A. Muntaquim
7. Liberation, Imagination & the Black Panther Party, by Kathleen Cleaver & G. Katificas
8. Black Brothers, Inc.: The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia
9. Monster: The Autobiography of a L.A. Gang Member, by Sanyika Shakur (From gangster into liberator)
10. Dark Alliance, by Gary Webb (documents how the CIA introduced crack into the U.S.)
11. Lost History, by Robert Parry (an even more in-depth expose of the CIA and cocaine)
12. Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder and Family, Charles Bowden (the U.S. and Mexican governments’ partnership with the drug cartels)
13. Inspector General’s First and Final Reports on Iran-Contra and the Illegal Drug Trade, posted on the CIA’s official website (the U.S. government’s admissions about its dealing drugs)
15. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration, by D. S.
Hassey, Jorge Durand and Nolan J. Malone (how the Mexican
economy collapsed while the Drug Enforcement
Administration admitted that 85% of the drugs shipped from
Mexico got across the U.S. border-with no action taken)

Original artwork was created for this piece by Siri: thank you!

2 thoughts on “Liberation Or Gangsterism Pt 3”

  1. That was a fascinating and insightful account of the co-option and defeat of Black liberation organisations. I’d be interested to know if similar strategies were used in Northern Ireland against its Republican Army which, by the time I was growing up in the 1970s, seemed to have mutated into little more than a macho, criminal gang. I might be wrong. Educate me.

    I’ve been learning the limits of non-violence through Peter Gelderloos’s book The Failure of Non-Violence ( which shows that strict adherence to the non-violent principle is to play into the hands of the State. That itself is something of a revelation to me, who has been an activist and campaigner with numerous non-violent groups such as Greenpeace.

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