Argentina: Mystery and Slow-Breaking News on the Cocaine Suitcases

Argentina has made international news for the drug trafficking scandal going on at the Southern Winds airline.

Though the news just broke a few days ago, in the month of September 2004, four suitcases with 400 kilos of cocaine were found in the Barajas terminal of the Madrid airport.

The origin of the suitcases was Ezeiza, Argentina, and they had been transported by the Southern Winds airline. Starting there, information has kept coming out about the investigations, those responsible for the events, the confusing explanations of those involved, and the dismissal of important government functionaries. Finally, President Nestor Kirchner said firmly in his speech before Congress: “There was complicity among those who should have been controlling the criminals.” “The most important thing is that our actions put the criminals on the defensive and make clear that there will be no place for impunity or complicit silence.” This story, that was (although it might not have been) just like others before it demonstrated the near perfection of the carnal relations between national and international powers that are just like the skeleton made up of the big drug mafias: they have different kinds of bones welded carefully together.

The Argentine newspapers could do no more than echo the scandal, while the Spanish press did things a bit differently, although both countries have played the same leading role in the event.

Since the moment the story broke, indignation has come out from various sectors about issues such as the lack of airport security, the ineffectiveness of security personal, the lack of controls, etc. What is certain is that the late-arriving news put this issue of drug trafficking in Argentina back on the table, an issue often omitted or treated with a certain lightness.

“Drug trafficking” – the words have been repeated once and a thousand times in all the national media, the same “drug trafficking” that years ago would be associated with images of two hooded youths jumping out of a car with some little package, or maybe a raid on some little hut on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, or some far-off province. “Drugs,” real “drugs,” not like in the mediocre yellow-journalism reports on poor kids smoking cocaine base, which now don’t even get a comment the next day at the office.

It seems that people have suddenly remembered that the drug trade exists in Argentina, as if they had just discovered that the airport controls are not really secure. Almost no one added, although many have witnessed it, that in most airports the only people who really go through security checks are the Bolivian and Peruvian passengers, the young, the “false suspects” in the inefficient war on drugs.

Hopefully this incident will help open among governments, among the pseudo-puritanical businessmen, or at least among the media, a serious debate about the unjust anti-drug policies in Argentina. Hopefully the word “drugs” appears in the government’s and the media’s agendas, as if we weren’t so afraid of it.

This is a translation – please make comments to the original Spanish version.

User login


About Romina Trincheri