Book Review: Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley

The topic is controversial; the author herself is courageous for taking on such an underreported story. Dawn succeeds in connecting transnational business with paramilitaries, drug cartels, and U.S. involvement. Far too often in the media we hear of the reports that the FBI has taken down a major cartel and somehow it’s a major blow to drug trafficking. Also another story we often hear is that that they (local authorities) have discovered a mass grave somewhere in Mexico, and Central America and it’s always tied to drug cartels. Dawn flips these narratives highlighting 3 major apparatus’s: The State, Foreign Investment, and Cartels are all linked to create an environment that is polite to industry. What is industry? It depends on whom you ask because the type of industry that is taking place in places like Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia is destroying the indigenous homeland. Protesters who are against this process of gentrification are intimidated to stay silent and if not they are murdered.

Plan Colombia and Plan Mexico were economic development strategies tied U.S. initiatives. The purpose of these plans was to help both countries create an environment polite to foreign investors. Corporations in Canada, Australia, and United States all have interest in the resources Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Colombia naturally provide. Some of the major of resources these countries provide are gold, copper, hydropower, petroleum, nickel, silver, coal, gold, and timber. These resources entice trans-national businesses to come in and create industry that is hostile towards the indigenous living in the areas the corporations demand having. Who benefits from these initiatives titled “Plan Colombia and Plan Mexico”? Banks, organized crime, and public officials are one of the biggest beneficiaries of these financial and legal reforms. Why? Organized crime, transnational business, and state officials are in collusion with each other to create an environment hospitable to their needs while simultaneously these countries officials enact U.S. led policies that affect the disenfranchised of these countries.

This book was a revelation for me personally because like most I believed in usual drug trafficking narrative. Dawn has provided me with new insights into how it evolved, how it operates, and potentially where it’s headed. We need more brave journalist to come out and be the voice of the downtrodden, the voice of those whose blood was shed in the name of resistance.


Find the book here