The U.S. war on drugs has become a significant event in the political, social, and economic dimensions of the nation. Starting from the 1980s till today, government agencies put efforts into stopping the drug flood into the country. Nonetheless, the effects of such a war are merely visible, which led to Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic creation. While the movie contains some Hollywood fiction, it asks the question about whether the war on drugs can be won or the U.S. agencies are stuck in dealing with cartels, corruption, and drug addiction among U.S. citizens.
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The declared war on drugs began in the U.S. in the 1980s when the country became overwhelmed with three significant issues: the increased influence of drug cartels in Latin America, inefficient policies and countermeasures of agencies, and severe problems with the drug-addicted population. The film Traffic touches upon all of these aspects and represents them as interconnected roadblocks for the efficient and timely response to the drug threat. However, the reality is that such agencies as DEA and CIA conducted several successful operations and infiltrations against cartels and reduced the number of drug traffic almost by 50% (Sandvik and Hoelscher 174). Moreover, the number of drug-addicted people has dropped by 21%, primarily among youth and students.
On the contrary, the movie represents cartels as evil, where each person is a “cog in a machine,” which works, supports, and contributes to the cartels’ growth and supremacy. In return, many Latin Americans are victims of the circumstances and have limited options about their role within or against the cartels’ hegemony (Sandvik and Hoelscher 177). In this instance, the film’s representation of cartels, DEA, and drug-addicted people has little connection with the reality and truth about the war on drug trafficking.
From this perspective, Soderbergh’s film highlights the tremendous issue with drugs in the U.S. Rephrasing U.S. drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, drug education and war are a continuous process, which shall never stop until cartels and drug channels are demystified in people’s minds. The movie contributes to this aspect of the drug war, showing that the situation is not as dramatic as it is believed to be.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora, and Kristian Hoelscher. “The Reframing of the War on Drugs as a “Humanitarian Crisis”: Costs, Benefits, and Consequences.” Latin American Perspectives, vol. 44, no. 4, 2017, pp. 168-182.