Just as the impact of slavery in the southern US extended deeply into the “free” states of the north — such as slave labor providing raw inputs for northern industries — the international drug trade has had a broad impact on local economies around the world in recent decades.
The biggest cocaine boom in history has its origins outside towns like La Dorada, Colombia, Matthew Bristow reports here. Cattle ranches and fish farms give way to endless fields of coca, the pale green shrub used for making the drug.
“We’re living in the golden age of cocaine,” said Toby Muse, the author of the 2020 book Kilo: Inside the Deadliest Cocaine Cartels, who has been reporting on the Colombian drug trade for more than two decades. “Cocaine is reaching corners of the planet that have never seen it before, because there is so much.”
Satellite photos show that the amount of Colombian land planted with coca rose to a record of more than 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) last year, more than five times what it was when the infamous Pablo Escobar was gunned down in 1993. All that supply is flooding markets around the world, bringing violence, corruption and huge profits with it.