“Plata O Plomo: Silver or Lead” by Marie Javdani is an article that addresses ways of dealing with the out of control drug problem in Colombia. In the article, the central point that the author seems to be putting across is that the U.S. should seek for alternative ways of tackling the problem since the billions of dollars it has been channeling to the country does not seem to have any effect in controlling the problem.
Therefore, the U.S. should be concerned about cutting the demand for the illicit drugs by education and treatment. The former will assist people stop using drugs while the latter will be instrumental in making users conversant with the ultimate consequences of their actions.
The majority of Colombians are engaged in the cultivation of cocaine. Its production amounts to about 80% of the world’s total production and a significant quantity of the Unites States heroin supply. Even thought the U.S. sends aid to Latin American governments to fight the illicit trade in drugs, the rate of violence in the country has not changed. That is why Javdani proposes for alternative ways of tackling the rampant problem.
Colombians main source of money comes from drug production. According to Javdani, “As Gonzalo Sanchez explains it, plata o plomo is literally translated as “silver or lead” and means that one can either take the money – drug money, bribe money, and so on – or take a bullet (para 4).
In the essay, Miguel who is a Colombian and do drug production lives a risky life. On the other hand, Eric who is an American use drugs for a little bit of fun. According to the author, “Eric and Moguel represent opposite poles in what the United States government refers to as the “war on drugs.” Miguel’s home is where it starts… Eric’s home is where it ends.”
In the midst of this “war on drugs,” the Colombian peasants are faced with a dilemma. Javdani points out that “for the past forty years, the people of Colombia have found themselves between a rock and a hard place over the production of coca, the plant used for making cocaine and heroin” (para. 6). Since most Colombians depend on drugs for survival, rebel drug lords have assumed the control of this industry.
The Colombian peasants are often under the threats of these drug lords to choose the “silver or the lead.” The peasants are obliged to allow their lands to be used in the cultivation of Coca; otherwise, they put the lives of their families and themselves at a deadly risk. “At the same time, however, the consequence of “cooperation” with the rebels is execution by paramilitary groups or even by the Colombian government” (Javdani, para.6).
Therefore, in fear of this execution from the authorities, some coca peasants have willingly paid the rebels to protect them from outside interference.
In conclusion, the article illustrates that the abuse of drugs is an escalating problem that requires the attention of everyone. The war on drugs should not be confined to a particular place. Individuals in schools, homes, and even on the streets should be made aware of the effects of their actions when they abuse drugs. The reason why many innocent people are suffering in countries such as Colombia is that people are abusing drugs without knowing the consequences of their actions.