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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Guinea-Bissau: Even the Drug Dealers have Bailed

Adam Nossiter writes:

First the general was blown up. Then the president was shot dead, the former prime minister was arrested and tortured, a presidential candidate was killed in his villa and the former defense minister was ambushed and shot on the bridge outside town.

Despite those chilling messages — reportedly executed by men in military uniform — Sunday’s election to replace the assassinated president, João Bernardo Vieira, will go on.

There is jolly music and dancing in the decaying streets; earnest international observers crisscross Bissau, the capital; the remaining candidates hold buoyant rallies in preparation for the vote; and trucks packed with chanting supporters bounce up and down over the little city’s deep potholes.

Underneath, though, there is anxiety and doubt here in Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony that is pitch-black at night because of a lack of electricity and that is so fragile it is being abandoned even by the drug traffickers, according to a United Nations expert.

link: Fragile Nation in Disarray Holds Few Hopes for Vote -


Duncan Kinder said...

Despite this report, consider the following:

What we know is that there have been fewer large seizures of cocaine in Guinea Bissau recently. Which means what? Remember, this is a country that has had a recent presidential assassination but which is declining to investigate that event. This is a country that lacks a prison and has only the spottiest electrical service.

Either the cocaine smugglers are continuing to smuggle or they are not. Is there any evidence or reason to believe that their overall smuggling has decreased? Or is the stuff still getting through to Europe somehow? If the stuffs is still getting through, then - if not through Bissau - precisely what route is now being used instead?

Either they are continuing to smuggle through Bissau or through somewhere else. If somewhere else, then where? There has been some reported uptick in the use of the "Balkan Route," traditionally used to smuggle heroin into Europe, to also smuggle cocaine. But does this shift account for all of Europe's cocaine smuggling, and is use of the Balkan Route inconsistent with prior use of Bissau?

Furthermore, if drug cartels need political stability, then explain their conduct in Mexico.

In short, all we can safely infer from a decline in Bissau drug seizures is that the authorities there - for whatever reason - recently have been seizing fewer drugs. Which may be an outlier, a statistical anomaly or a decline in the ability / willingness of Bissau authorites to seize drugs.

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