Untitled - MariMUN Conference
Joint-Crisis Committee Director: Oscar Beghin
Assistant Crisis Director: Leiandros Kaklamanos
Chairs: Marianne-Alexandria Lau Rueda
Vice Chairs: Robert Rusu and Alex Derzsi
American/Colombian government side:
Assistant Crisis director: Mary-Lynne Loftus
Chair: Eric Abrams
Vice Chairs: Saarah Kunaseelan, Lucas Szwarcberg
Welcome to MariMUN 2016 and to the Narcos committee. This Crisis promises to be
exciting, fast paced, and diverse. This topic was inspired by the recent television
series released by Netflix but the content of this background guide comes from hard
historical facts. The series is quite historically accurate.
This crisis will start in 1986, when the Medellin Cartel’s presence was felt in all parts of
Colombian society. Let yourself be inspired by history but do not follow it. It is your
mission to expand the Cartel’s influence and profit margins; but it may also be your
responsibility to stop the rise of what proved to be one of the bloodiest organisations in
I am confident that you delegates will work both with and against each other and form
some interesting alliances to make this committee a truly exciting one. May the
trafficking be abundant, but the crackdown just as strong.
Best of luck,
Eric’s very first conference in 2012 was actually MariMUN. Like many, he stumbled
early on with ROPs but fell in love with the world of Model UN. Since then, he’s had the
privilege of representing MariMUN at local conferences and at WorldMUN 2015 in
Seoul and will do so again in March in Rome as Head Delegate and President of
MariMUN. Eric cannot wait to be your chair at MariMUN 2016 so that you too can feel
that same spark that he felt 3 years ago.
Marianne-Alexandra Lau Rueda:
Marianne is currently in her second year at McGill University. Her major in Psychology
together with her vast experience chairing means that you do not want to play mind
games with her. Marianne’s MUN career started with MariMUN in 2013 and she has
since climbed the ranks of IRSAM, having been an ACD at SSUNS and a Chair at
McMUN. Marianne will be returning as a Chair for MariMUN for a second time and is
excited to see what you delegates have to offer. Despite the impressive CV the only
actual reason she was chosen to chair Narcos is because she is Latina.
Oscar lives and breathes everything MariMUN. He started his MUN career with the
club in 2013 and has since had the privilege of representing our club both at home
and abroad. MUN has allowed Oscar to explore the world and live out the occasional
power trip. He is extremely excited to be a Crisis Director for MariMUN for a second
time and looks forward to the innovative directives as well as some constructive
debates, few has profoundly impressed Oscar but if you think you’re up for it, by all
Political and Economic Climate in the US
America’s establishment has never been friendly to recreational drug users. At
the beginning of the 20th century nation wide protests were held to ban alcohol. In the
1980s the new perceived threat to the nation was crack cocaine1. The Reagan
administration continued to push this anti-drug rhetoric with his address to the nation in
1986 by proclaiming drugs were a direct threat to American values and public safety2.
The first lady, Nancy Reagan was also involved in the “Just Say No” campaign which
aimed reducing youth drug abuse. This helped convince the public to further invest in
the war on drugs.
Another unspoken reason for the War on Drugs
was the economic consequences due to the
importation of cocaine. In the US it was estimated that
people spend more money on cocaine than on
newspapers, plane tickets, and even gas3. The drug
trade was also not being taxed of course so it was lost
revenue for the government and was contributing to a
trade deficit with countries who exported the product
such as Columbia4.
America’s Drug Policy and Enforcement
In response to the hippy counterculture of the
late 60s, the American “establishment” took a hard
anti-drug stance. The War on Drugs is said to have
begun on the 18th of June, 1971 when President
Richard Nixon proclaimed that drugs were “public enemy number one.” The foundation
of the DEA or Drug Enforcement Administration followed in 19735. The agency was
designed to end interagency rivalry between US customs and Bureau of Narcotics and
Dangerous Drugs who shared a similar mandate as well as to enforce the Controlled
Substances Act or CSA, a key piece of legislation6. The DEA operates both
domestically and abroad, with a mandate to disrupt drug supply lines, as well as to
reduce drug-related crime. The organisation has stated that their guidelines for
opening an office abroad are that the host nation must contain elements involved in
1 "The Cocaine Economy." The Pendulum of Psychoactive Drug Use. The Pendulum of Psychoactive
Drug Use, 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
2 Benson, Thor. "The Real Reason We Started the War on Drugs." Attn:. Attn, 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 23
3 Gereffi, Gary. "Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism." Google Books. Goo, n.d. Web. 23 Dec.
4 Lee, Rensselaer. "The Economics of Cocaine Capitalism." The Economics of Cocaine Capitalism.
Cosmo Club, n.d. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
5 "CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy - Table of Contents." CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy
- Table of Contents. USDOJ, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.
6 "Controlled Substances Act." Controlled Substances Act. FDA, 11 June 2009. Web. 20 Dec. 2015. some way with the production, distribution, and or transport of illicit drugs into the
The CIA was also involved in the drug war, but in a
very different way. The agency propped up and overthrew
several regimes in South America throughout the Cold War.
The most relevant case would be that of the Contras who
come to prominence in 1979. The US backed the anticommunist group who was seeking to overthrow the
socialist government in Nicaragua with both military and
financial support7. The group engaged in terrorist tactics
and was accused of acts such as targeting clinics, rape,
and executing civilians to name a few8. The CIA funded the
Contras in part by helping them traffic cocaine into the US9.
Ironically in 1982 Vice President George H. Bush pushed to
use the CIA and the American military to help disrupt the
flow of drugs into the US10.
Previous Efforts to Distinguish/Address the Issue
In the summer of 1983, President Belisario Betancur appointed Rodrigo Lara
Bonilla as Minister of Justice.11 Together the two men actively put forth some of the first
efforts to stop Colombian drug cartels, especially the Medellín Cartel.12 After Bonilla
exposed Pablo Escobar’s illegal activities, including bribery of government officials
and police officers, he became Escobar’s target and was subsequently murdered.13
Following Bonilla’s death, the Colombian government approved an extradition treaty
with the United States.14Extradition was a cause of great fear among Colombian drug
traffickers, as their trials took place in the United States where they had no influence or
power.15 From 1984 to 1987, Columbia extradited thirteen Columbian drug dealers,
including the co-founder of the Medellín Cartel, Carlos Lehder Rivas.16 In 1987, the
7 "NICARAGUA." NICARAGUA. Human Rights Watch, n.d. Web. 21 Dec. 2015
8 "Ottawa Citizen - Google News Archive Search." Ottawa Citizen - Google News Archive Search.
Google, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2015.
9 REDACTED – PUBLIC VERSION REDACTED – PUBLIC VERSION THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT
ADMINISTRATION ’ S INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS. Rep. no. 07-19. N.p.: US DOJ, 2007. Print.
Scott, Peter Dale., and Jonathan Marshall. Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in
Central America. Berkeley: U of California, 1991. Print.
11 “Rodrigo Lara Bonilla”, Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press, accessed December 17th, 2015,
14 “Relations with the United States”, Country Studies, accessed December 18th, 2015,
15 Flank, Lenny, The Cocaine King: Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel (Daily Kos, 2015). 16 “Relations with the United States”, Country Studies, accessed December 18th, 2015,
Colombian Supreme Court ruled the ratification of the United States-Colombian
extradition treaty unconstitutional, resulting from a ruling the previous year in which the
Supreme Court invalidated the treaty’s enabling legislation.17Because of this ruling, the
pending extradition cases of Pablo Escobar, Jorge Luis Ochoa Vásquez and José
Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha were never taken up.18 This proved to be a considerable
setback in the anti-drug efforts of both the American and Columbian governments.
The State of Colombia
The Republic of Colombia, in the 1980s, was in constant war against drugs. In
1981, after the Medellin Cartel rose to power, Escobar used fear and money to
manipulate those in power. Escobar targeted public figures who supported extradition,
such as Luis Carlos Galan a liberal political leader
running for presidency19 at the time.
Colombian streets became extremely dangerous.
Anti-narcotic brigades accompanied by Special Forces
flew over remote regions in Colombia surveying
suspicious areas20. As well, Escobar and his men
carried out assassinations and operations in public. For
example, when he ordered armed guerrillas to storm
the Palace of Justice in Colombia to retrieve
incrementing documents, he caused the death of more
than 100 people21. To further illustrate the lack of
security in Colombia, Escobar and his men had a
domestic passenger plane destroyed by a bomb that
killed 110 people, mostly civilians, the goal of the plot
was later clarified, their plan was to kill presidential
candidate Gaviria, but he was not on the plane22.
Meanwhile, the Colombian police implemented a
Search Bloc, which focused on capturing or killing
particular individuals affiliated with the cartel, a good
plan on paper, but this only created more violence on
the streets23. The war had both sides at a constant state
of warfare in both major cities and rural areas.
19 Colombia General on Trial over Luis Carlos Galan Murder - BBC News." BBC News. 1 June 2015.
20 Amoruso, David. "Pablo Escobar's War on Colombia." - Gangsters Inc. Web. 25 Feb. 2010.
21 Perera, John Henry. "Timeline: Important Events of Pablo Escobar's Life and the Medellín Cartel."
Houston Chronicle. Web. 17 July 2015.
Colombia’s Political and Economic Background Info
During the 1980s, Colombia’s political and economic situations became a point
of interest to the American government because of its widespread illegal drug
production and trafficking, and the alarming crises that ensued.24 Conflicts within
Colombia centered around two issues: drugs and control of the country.25 The three
groups fighting for control were the government, left-wing guerrillas and right-wing
paramilitaries.26Left-wing guerrilla groups, such as the May 19th Movement (M-19), the
National Liberation Army (ELN), and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC), were organized in the 1960s and 1970s and significantly contributed to the
unstable political landscape which plagued the country.27 In the following years, drug
cartels, such as the Medellín Cartel and the Cali Cartel, had a stranglehold on the
policy makers and politicians through bribery and threats.28 Many right-wing
paramilitary groups were in fact composed of drug traffickers.29 In 1982, Conservative
leader Belisario Betancur Cuartas became president
but failed to put an end to guerrilla violence.30 The
country plunged further into political instability
resulting from the war on drugs, as daily bombings,
killings and kidnappings became routine.31 By 1989,
the dominant cause of death in Colombia was
homicide and it was the leading city in homicide
rates.32 The Colombian economy was in a very tricky
position, on one hand the drug traffickers has
stimulated the economy in a positive way, but on the
other this was by no means sustainable and of course
exceptionally risky. Traffickers no longer invested
exclusively in illegal enterprises but ventured into
legal investments as well, major coffee production
companies, are now increasing its operations using
the money provided by drug traffickers, moreover the
luxurious lifestyle of cartel leaders promoted job
growth, for instance construction of million dollar
estates, having thousands of mercenaries on the payroll, etc. Since as much as 80% of
the cocaine were provided by Colombia at some point, drug trafficking proved to be a
highly profitable export, and the majority of the money they made, they spent on
24 Pardo, Rafael, Colombia’s Two-Front War (The Council on Foreign Affairs, 2000).
27 “Colombia”, Infoplease, accessed December 22rd, 2015,
improving their operations and infrastructure in Colombia, meaning the money stays
circulating within Colombia33.
Plata o Plomo: How the Medellin Cartel’s influence spread
The Medellin Cartel is indisputably one of the most successful drug trafficking
organizations the world has ever seen. Proper timing, a corrupted political climate and
a ruthlessly efficient business model has allowed the cartel to claim responsibility for
80% of the global cocaine market at the height of its power34. Although much of the
cartels power was centralized in Colombia, Escobar would steer his enterprise into the
wholesale department before long–keeping his distributors in check with the threat of
violence, while the Medellin Cartel itself focused on producing cocaine and shipping it
to local “franchises”. These distributors ranged from U.S. organized crime groups
(such as gangs) to Mexican smugglers, which would eventually give rise to the nownotorious Sinaloa, Juárez and Tampico cartels35.
33 Becker, Sarah. "The Effects of the Drug Cartels on Medellín and the Colombian State." The Faculty of
the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. May 1, 2013. Accessed December 23, 2015.
https://bir.brandeis.edu/bitstream/handle/10192/25053/BeckerThesis2013.pdf?sequence=1. 34 http://www.wsj.com/ad/cocainenomics
Escobar once described the cocaine business as “simple - you bribe someone
here, you bribe someone there, and you pay a friendly banker to help you bring the
money back.”36–and so it was. With the tremendous income of the Medellin Cartel,
Escobar had practically every politician or policeman in Columbia either corrupted or
killed, in adherence with his personal motto of “Plata o plomo” (literally “Lead or
silver”). The Medellin Cartel had corrupt officials on its payroll across the globe; $10
million alone went to Panama’s dictator Manuel Noriega in order to secure the
unhindered passage of 20 tons of cocaine into the US37. Escobar may have even
corrupted Colombia's secret police (the D.A.S.), allowing him to perform high-profile
assassinations on politicians who opposed him38. The Medellin Cartel’s money is said
to have infiltrated every aspect of Colombia’s economy–down to Medellin’s soccer
team, in a bid to launder money39.
While the Medellin cartel may have spent ludicrous amounts of money on
bribing the rich and powerful, it is important to denote the cartel’s influence within
Medellin’s poorer communities. In a country where the government seemingly ignored
the plight of the underprivileged man, Pablo Escobar cultivated a “Robin Hood” image,
taking from the rich and giving to the poor. He would distribute cash, clothes, and food
to the unemployed40, and he established social programs and housing projects (such
as the neighbourhood known as Barrio Pablo Escobar), which still stands today and
houses close to 13 000 residents41. Naturally, this was not an entirely altruistic effort: he
used his popularity to become elected as an alternate congressman before being
ousted from the Colombian political scene due to his involvement in the drug trade.
Unsurprisingly, Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, the Justice Minister who exposed him, found
himself dead shortly after opposing Escobar42. The Medellin Cartel had a very active
role in Colombian politics: cartel leaders ran in elections, donated to politicians, and
sought to oppose the Extradition Treaty–through any means necessary43.
Escobar’s influence on the poor also provided him with another valuable
resource: manpower. The cartel employed hundreds of street urchins from Medellin’s
poorest slums; these teenagers were known as sicarios44. Cheap, expendable and
abundant, Medellin’s impoverished youth soon learned that they could make between
$USD 5000-8000 per kill, in exchange for their undying and unconditional loyalty to el
Patron45. The Medellin Cartel also employed several paramilitary “self-defence” forces,
such as Muerte a Secuestradores (Death to Kidnappers), an organization, which
counted drug kingpins, landed elites, Colombian legislators, wealthy cattle ranchers
36 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/farmers-son-who-bribed-and-murdered-his-way- intodrugs-neither-government-forces-nor-other-drug-1465001.html 37 http://www.nytimes.com/1991/11/19/us/witness-says-noriega-got-10-million-in-drug-bribes .html
38 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3238278/Buddy-circumstances-make-man-Pablo-Es cobar-shitman-Popeye-admits-ordering-3-000-murders-breaks-silence-say-doesn-t-feel-guilt-victim-KingCocaine.html
and even the Colombian military amongst its members46. Cartel leaders would hire
Israeli and British ex-military operatives
to train their armies47; with the weapons
and preparation they supplied their
soldiers with, the Medellin Cartel had
every resource to start a war.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did the Medellín Cartel gain
immense power and influence in
What were the American government’s
motives for trying to stop the Narcos’ activities?
What were the results of the extradition treaty between the United States and
Colombia? Was the treaty effective?
What was the link between Escobar and the guerilla group M-19?
What can Colombian cartels do to combat the measures put in place by the
What are some of the fundamental root causes of crime and how do we stop it?
Concepts to Consider:
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA)
Colombia-United States Extradition Treaty
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
DEA Mission Statement
Alternative Sources for Delegate Research
1. U.S.-Colombia Relations
2. Medellín Cartel and Colombian Drug Trafficking
3. DEA and American Side