just as soon do without. The New Liberals’rnleader at the time, Rodrigo LararnBonilla, expelled the two after the Bogotarndaily El Espectador revealed theirrnconnections to the Medellin cartel. Escobarrnwas nevertheless reelected, in partrndue to his “soccer field in every barrio”rnprogram in Medellin. The next year,rnRodrigo Lara was named Minister of Justicernand announced a program to combatrncampaign finance corruption. JairornOrtega, in a debate in Congress, promptlyrndisplayed a one million peso checkrnto Rodrigo Lara from narcotraffickerrnEvaristo Porras. The media railedrnagainst Lara’s hypocrisy, and the justicernminister was called to court. Weeks later,rnLara was assassinated in an incident nowrndirectly connected to Escobar. Plantingrndoubt as to the credibility of all politiciansrnis a common ploy, for in the end,rneveryone appears equally guilty.rnThe demise of the Medellin cartel hasrnmade the penalties for honesty lessrnlethal, but the empowerment of therncartels has already been completed.rnColombians are not any less honest thanrnother people, but they are much morerncynical. Pop culture here does its best torncope with a critically damaged world image;rna number of political and socialrnsatires lead the television ratings. Onernnewsprogram, Panorama, has an interestingrnsegment, “IM Maquina de la Verdad,”rnin which celebrities and politiciansrntake a televised polygraph test. I doubtrnthat many American politicians wouldrnbe willing to go that far. While in otherrncounties students are calling for an endrnto Western culture, students from severalrnuniversities recently took to the sheets ofrnBogota to call for a more honest Colombia.rnThe absurdity of the present administration’srnrecent television campaign callingrnfor greater honesty has not been lostrnon many Colombians. The current president,rnErnesto Samper, has become arnsymbol of the narcocracy currently inrnpower. Wliile questions remain as to thernpresident’s culpability in several incidents,rnsuch as the discovery of cocaine inrnthe nose of the presidential jet, it is widelyrnassumed that he knew about the $6rnmillion in contributions that the Calirncartel made to his 1994 campaign, andrnhis fingering of several cabinet membersrnfor this crime has made him few friends.rnAmerica’s certification process has notrnhelped Colombia’s image; it has beenrnduplicitous at best, certifying Mexico (arncountry today with drug cartels as strongrnas Cali and with a government as corruptrnas that in Colombia) but decertifyingrnColombia. Colombia probably deservesrnto be decertified, but so do a dozen otherrncountries which have not been. Certificationrnseems to hinge on the amount ofrnlegislative action against drug tiafficking.rnExtradition, an effective weapon againstrnnarcotraffickers that was annulled by arncourt interpretation of Colombia’s 1991rnconstitution, has little chance of beingrnresuscitated. While the Rodriguez Orejuelarnbrothers of Cali appear to be goingrndown in the record books as the first cartelrnchiefs to receive substantial prisonrnterms (23 and 24 years each without parole),rnthey are probably just victims ofrnColombia’s attempt to win Washington’srnfavor.rnArguments against extradition on therngrounds of national sovereignty ignorernthe fact that Colombia’s sovereignty hasrnbeen for sale for some time. As Karl Penhaulrnof Reuters reported last October,rn”U.S. officials are coy about the numberrnof radar stations they have in Colombiarnand the size of the U.S. contingent thatrnoperates them.”rnCoca eradication is a prime governmentrntactic in battling the cartels. Thisrnextremely ineffective—but easy to implementrn—strategy is the principal onernused throughout the Andes. Until recently,rna country could become certifiedrnsimply by eradicating x hectares of cocarnfields and y number of maceration pitsrn(used to create coca base from the coca).rnEradication, however, has not hinderedrnnarcotraffickers in the least. The poorrncoca farmer, despite physical intimidationrnand arbitiary imprisonment withoutrntrial, continues to grow the plants becausernthe prices have stayed relativelyrnhigh compared to other crops, and becausernmore eradication means betterrnprices for the coca that remains. Thernfilm clips of coca eradication are onlyrnuseful as State Department propaganda.rnThe greatest tool of the drug tiade isrnthe guerrilla movement of Colombia. Inrnearlier times, the Ejercito de LiberacionrnNacional managed its own marijuanarnplots in Guajira (Colombia is the originrnof a majority of American-smokedrnweed), but now they, like other guerrillarngroups, have become mere lackeys of thernCali cartel. The Frente Armado Revolucionariarnde Colombia (FARC) is by farrnthe largest and most active guerrillarngroup in the country. Led by Jacobo Arenas,rnan old-school communist who rarelyrnmentions the word “communism” anymore,rnh’ARC has created a winning populistrnstrategy since the 1970’s by aidingrninvasores, squatters in the frontier zonesrnof the country, mostly south of thernCordillera oriental. One of the wealthiestrnguerrilla movements in the world,rnFARC is paid both by Cali and by businessrninterests that pay “protection” feesrnso that they can operate in FARCcontiolledrnzones. This includes mostiyrnpetioleum companies and bus services,rnboth of which still suffer attacks fromrnpeople working on their own in the disorderedrnfrontier regions. The chaos thatrnthis creates makes much of rural Colombiarnan ideal area to produce and exportrncocaine.rnThe triad of narcotraffickers, politicians,rnand guerrillas that is running therncountry into the ground faces only arnhandful of politicians, judges, and journalistsrntrying to stop the rampant corruption.rnLike Rodrigo Lara, many of themrnhave been assassinated, includingrnCuillermo Cano Isaza, the editor of thernBogota paper El Espectador and the mostrnprominent of the 117 journalists assassinatedrnhere in the last ten years; JudgernTulio Manuel Castro Gil, who broughtrnthe assassins of Rodrigo Lara to justice;rnand presidential candidate Luis CarlosrnGalan, because he was one man Calirncould not buy and because he wasn’trnafraid to extiadite drug dealers. The costrnof honesty has left a few outlaws (withinrnthe law) who run the country, and millionsrnof innocents who have learned tornkeep their mouths shut.rnColombians are widely disgusted withrnthe current administiation, but there hasrnnever been a populist movement capablernof removing a president here, asrnEcuadorians recently removed El Loco,rna.k.a. Abdala Bucaram. While Colombiansrninsist, correctly, that the demandrnside must be attacked for the drug problemrnto be contiolled, they have not fallenrnvictim to the libertarian fallacies of legalizationrnproponents.rnIf Colombians only took the legalizationrncrowd’s advice, goes the argument,rnthey could leave violence behind andrnstart a new free market day. Employersrnin Colombia could begin to pay theirrnworkers in basuco legally, instead of illegally.rnCoffee fields could be replantedrnwith coca, so higher quality leaf could berngrown at the correct altitude rather thanrnin the rain forest. Coca, marijuana, andrnheroin labs could work openly to developrnthe most addictive drugs possible withrnless danger to their pharmacists, who bat-rnFEBRUARY 1998/35rnrnrn