Guinea Bissau is a very poor country on the west coast of Africa. In 2005, a group of fishermen there found a package with some white powder. They didn’t know what it was, so they tried sprinkling some on their crops.
Then a few days later, a Colombian guy showed up in their town. He was all like, “I believe you gentlemen have something that belongs to me.”
So in exchange for their recovering and holding onto his product, the fishermen were given $1 million. A million dollars is a lot of money to pretty much anyone – at least anyone I know – but it’s even more in a country where the GDP is $486 per capita.
So the fishermen and their friends said to the Colombian, “Hey, we should hang again sometime.” And they did.
Now remember, that was in 2005. Since then, the military has gotten in on the drug trade and something like a civil war has started up between them and the government. Last March, the president was assassinated, probably as part of the toll for this war. Not to mention that there are now lots of native cocaine addicts where there previously were none, since they didn’t even know what it was. Now that half of the country’s GDP is in cocaine, the only work peasants can get is in that trade, and their salary is often in product.
But the thing is that Guinea Bissau isn’t a narco-state because it’s a big market for cocaine, and it’s not a narco-state because it’s a big producer. The producers are in Colombia and the market is largely in Europe. The only reason Guinea Bissau is involved is due to the drug prohibitions of countries around the world. It’s a hub for the traffickers, and they’re only able to take advantage of the local people is because they operate in the black market. So this situation is just one more of the hidden (and unnecessary) costs of the drug war.