In her recently published book Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia's First Drug Paradise
(University of California Press 2020), Lina Britto
tells the forgotten story of the first boom in illicit drugs in the Greater Magdalena region of Colombia. This unknown history, that started in the late 1960s though its origins can be traced back to the beginning of the twentieth century, is the bridge that explains a dramatic turning point in Colombian history: a moment where the country went from being a coffee republic to becoming a narcotics nation. Arguing against traditional explanations that have attributed the rise of illicit economies to either the absence of the state or the moral degeneration of US consumers and smugglers, Britto sees the bonanza marimbera as part of a history of nation-state formation, agrarian modernization, and interstate relations in the Americas. A history that weaves in oral history, political economy, cultural history, and diplomatic history is a must-read for those interested in processes of nation state formation, illicit economies, and the history of the “war on drugs” in the Americas.
Lisette Varón-Carvajal is a PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. You can tweet her and suggest books at @LisetteVaron