Archive for the ‘Primary Sources’ Category

NSA: U.S. Policy in Latin America (1966-1996)


The Contras, Cocaine, Noriega, and Covert Operations

National Security Archives uncovers secret documents relating the alliances between the Reagan administration and a whole host of shady actors involved in narcotrafficking

Colombian Paramilitaries and the U.S.: Documents Detail Narco-Para Connection to anti-Escobar Taskforce

*All text courtesy of the National Security Archives*

The National Security Archive obtained the hand-written notebooks of Oliver North, the National Security Council aide who helped run the contra war and other Reagan administration covert operations, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in 1989. The notebooks, as well as declassified memos sent to North, record that North was repeatedly informed of contra ties to drug trafficking.

On February 10, 1986, Robert Owen (“TC”), a liasion for the Contras, wrote North (this time as “BG,” for “Blood and Guts”) regarding a plane being used to carry “humanitarian aid” to the contras that was previously used to transport drugs. The plane belongs to the Miami-based company Vortex, which is run by Michael Palmer, one of the largest marijuana traffickers in the United States. Despite Palmer’s long history of drug smuggling, which would soon lead to a Michigan indictment on drug charges, Palmer receives over $300,000.00 from the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Aid Office (NHAO) — an office overseen by Oliver North, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Elliott Abrams, and CIA officer Alan Fiers — to ferry supplies to the contras.



As early as the first Bush administration, the U.S. “Andean Strategy” was developed as a “deal” struck with Andean governments to provide them with counterdrug aid that could also be used against their principal adversary: the guerrillas.

Chalino Sánchez (1960-1992) was a famous narcocorrido singer and songwriter from Sinoaloa, Mexico, but based in Los Angeles, California. Narcocorridos or “border ballads,” compose the soundtrack of the drug war. Narcocorrido is an immensely popular musical genre that features classic Norteña music styles and comments on the drug war, narcotrafficking, turf battles, and the rugged existence of those living along the U.S./Mexico borders. Nicknamed the “Tupac Shakur of Narcorridos,” Chalino is widely regarded as one the most influential Mexican recording artists of all time. On May 16, 1992, Chalino was murdered in Culiacán, Sinaloa, by unknown assailants. His hit song, the ironically titled “El Crimen de Culiacán,” or “The Crime of Culiacán,” is among the most frequently recorded and performed Mexican pop songs of all time.

To hear the song, copy and paste the link into your brower-

Chalino Sánchez, courtesy of


Les cantaré este corrido a dos hombres que mataron
sin tenerles compasión vilmente los torturaron
y ya muertos con un carro por encima les pasaron.
En la colonia el palmito la ciudad fue culiacán
andaban francisco lópez, también francisco beltrán
ellos no se imaginaban que los iban a matar.
Francisco lópez tenía unas cuentas atrazadas
había matado derecho al que le robó a su amada
pero francisco beltrán no tenía culpa de nada.
Otro día los encontraron al amanecer el día
tenían las tripas de fuera y un perro se las comía
y unos momentos después llegaba la policía.
Con la banda sinaloense los fueron a sepultar
y dos madrecitas lloran sin poderse consolar
por sus hijos adorados que ahorita en el cielo están.
Ya con ésta me despido y les digo en mi cantar
que las malas compañías nada bueno han de dejar
lo digo por el corrido, no se les vaya a olvidar.

View from the Top

El Mezquital y Villa Lobos, Guatemala City, Zone 12, two of the most dangerous gang zones of Guatemala City
Photo taken by Edward F. Shore, January 2010