Cocaine: From Coca Fields to the Streets.

AuthorJane Rausch, Emerita

Arias, Enrique Desmond, and Thomas Grisaffi, eds. Cocaine: From Coca Fields to the Streets. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2021.

Bookended by editor Enrique Desmond Arias's introduction and conclusion, this volume is a collection of eleven essays written by scholars who participated in a series of panels at a Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Congress in 2016 to discuss the effects of drug trafficking in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia, and Brazil. Setting their observations within the framework of moral economy, these researchers acknowledge the effect of global drug markets on the nations they examined, and they show how drug trafficking has developed via a complex process of self-regulation in the shadow of a state power that formally seeks to destroy it. They review the interconnection between sites along cocaine's global supply chain; the implications of those interconnections for social, political, and economic experiences in places affected by the trade; and, conversely, how those interconnections affect the cocaine trade (3). Taken collectively, these essays demonstrate that entire ways of life are built around cocaine commodiflcation and show how state authority is coupled with the self-regulating practices of drug producers, traffickers, and dealers. Their authors also suggest more progressive policies that acknowledge the important role drugs play in the lives of individuals at the urban and rural margins.

Since the essays are all high quality, a brief comparison of just two of them will provide an idea of their collective value. In her article, "Drug Crops, Twisted Motorcycles, and Cultural Loss in Indigenous Colombia," Autumn Zellers-Leon notes that Colombian Law 30 of 1986 allows indigenous people to grow up to thirty coca plants for local traditional use and exchange, yet these farmers are also active participants in the illegal drug trade thatbegan in the 1970s. Although the drugs they produce make up a crucial part of the drug commodity chain, they receive only 2 percent of the profits. Nevertheless, Zellers-Leon notes that rather than disrupt the traditional economy, the drug trade has promoted development of a cash-based economy in rural areas that has helped indigenous families meet their basic needs.

One of the most basic changes has been the abandonment of horse-drawn vehicles for motorcycles. Drug gangs introduced these probably stolen motorcycles and then dumped them in remote...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT