It’s sometimes good to remember that as extreme as Evo Morales is, conservatives don’t exactly have a sterling record of restraint here. With the return of Luis Arce Gómez to Bolivia, we are reminded of how the old conservative front of Bolivia acted. Gómez, who just finished a 15 year sentence in Federal prison in Miami, will now go to jail for another 30 in Bolivia, the maximum amount under Bolivian law.
Gómez, a.k.a “the Minister of Cocaine,” was part of what is now known as the Cocaine Coup of 1980. The Cocaine Coup, which installed career military officer, Luis García Meza Tejada, to power, involved a colorful group of players; Gómez and Meza are joined by former Nazi officer, Klaus “the Butcher of Lyon” Barbie, and Italian neofascist Stefano Delle Chiaie. Besides these goons, Meza imported some professional torturers from the infamously repressive Argentine Videla dictatorship.
Gómez, as Interior Minister, ran the junta’s drug running activities which funded in part the coup. These were so severe that the Reagan administration kept its distance, even as it cozied up to any number of autocratic Latin American caudillos, and the DEA launched an investigation and arrested Gómez after the junta fell from power (it lasted only a year). He was convicted in absentia, but now will serve out his sentence.