Guinea-Bissau's Cocaine Coup
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The military of the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau toppled the government in April, in a coup d'etat that at the time—coming as it did just two weeks before a presidential election—left many scratching their heads. But now, according to a story in the New York Times, the real reason for the coup has become apparent: to eliminate any roadblocks to military-sanctioned drug trafficking in the country. A senior DEA official tells the newspaper, "They are probably the worst narco-state that's out there on the continent. They are a major problem." In the half-year since the April "cocaine coup," more small planes than ever have been making the 1,600-mile journey from Latin America to deserted locales—including islands, fields and estuaries—in Guinea-Bissau, which is about the size of Belgium. There, under direction of the army, experts say, the planes unload their minimum ton-and-a-half of blow for shipment north to Europe. "People at the highest levels of the military are involved in the facilitation [of trafficking]," says the DEA official. "In other African countries government officials are part of the problem. In Guinea-Bissau, it is the government itself that is the problem."