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Acknowledgements || 1: In the beginning...

In the 1980s, the illegal narcotics trade was transformed from an essentially regional phenomenon into a transnational phenomenon. As such it became a significant transnational actor in international relations. Literature on the illegal narcotics trade (INT) has tended to focus on macro approaches to understanding the INT. It is only in the past few years that scholars have begun to understand, according to Samuel I. del Villar, that there is no single illicit drug market. The INT breaks down not only according to product differentiation, but also along the roles different countries play in the structure of the INT.

Colombia, a major center for the processing and transshipment of cocaine, is the object of this study. The generalized violence that Colombia has experienced is, according to Francisco Thoumi, symptomatic of the "illegality and dishonesty trap" in which nations can become ensnared when erosion of its political institutions, particularly economic and legal, occurs. Increasingly, financial institutions which have considered themselves apolitical are having to confront the political consequences of profit-seeking.

Thus this study hypothesizes that the interactive relationship between the INT and the Colombian state has so altered the power structure of the state that the state has seen not only its political sovereignty decrease, but also its economic sovereignty. The transnationalization of narco-capital through money-laundering has effectively limited the control of the Colombian state over these resources. Moreover, its existence poses serious implications for the implementation of a successful narco-policy by either Colombia itself, or in bilateral agreement with the United States. Similarly the violent assault upon the Colombian judicial system has undermined confidence in the state and contributed to the increase of a "privatization of justice".

This study seeks to add to a growing corpus of literature an approach that recognizes that the successful inauguration, maintenance, and growth of illegal narcotics trafficking requires an articulate constituency capable of alliance formation. This constituency, present in both producer and consumer nations, is capable of articulating demands and exerting pressure upon governments through its capacity to marshal significant material and human resources on its behalf. As such it represents a formidable challenge to the state and requires investigation.