Martinez

Bob Martinez

Bob Martinez, President Bush's drug "czar" from 1991-93, is a former Florida governor and Tampa mayor. Now a business development consultant, he is also head of Pro Tech Monitoring Co., a Palm Harbor, Fla.,-based company that sells a satellite system to monitor inmates under house arrest. He was interviewed by FRONTLINE in April 1997.

When you were the drug policy director, what did you do to counter heroin production?
We did have an eradication program with Mexico and Colombia dealing with poppies to try and keep that cultivation down. In the Golden Triangle, Burma and all those areas with the most heroin production, we were diplomatically at a disadvantage. We didn't have the good contacts and relationships there.

And other than crop eradication?
Also crop substitution. Our dollars were based in key countries of South America.

Did you attempt anything in Burma and Southeast Asia?
I would say that on the international scope over 90 percent of our effort was geared to the Caribbean and Latin America. I think the embassies did what they could, but at that time the drug of choice in this country was cocaine, marijuana or the synthetics. That's what spread all over the country, while the heroin stayed with traditional users basically in northeast cities. Therefore, it didn't have that epidemic kind of role that causes issues to move.

Did you succeed in Mexico and Colombia?
Most of those programs didn't get much beyond demonstration projects. In some cases they would buy up a lot of small plots that a farmer might have, and there wasn't any guarantee that they wouldn't get another one. To some degree it served a purpose. There were some who did get out and got into some alternative crop.

Is there an effective strategy to curb heroin output in the source countries?
The United States represents a huge marketplace, and most countries will have to either manufuacture for us or sell to us. As you enter bilateral negotiations over trade, the drug issue shouldn't be forgotten in terms of what kind of effort that country must engage in. If a country wants a favored nation position or if it wants U.S. companies to freely invest there, then there are cetain things it needs to do in certain areas. And drugs ought to be one of those.

So trade becomes a condition of their cooperation on drugs?
It should be one of the things. It can't be the only thing. We have other interests. But that should be one of them.

Would it work in Burma?
I think it can. I think you can start going to the United Nations and ask for resolutions to bring the world attention on an outlaw country. I think you can get Group Seven countries to exert pressure. We should ask how to use our economic muscle to get cooperation and to get rid of all this drug trafficking.

How could that pressure work against a country like Burma, a dictatorship that is itself corrupted by drug money?
With regimes like that you've going to have to do a little bit of hardballing or they're just not going to do it.

So you think the Clinton administration ought to take more of a global, hardball approach?
We did it to fight other "isms," Communism and everything else. This is drugism. Will we get together now on this issue?

If we take this hardball approach, and we're successful with country "x" or "y," doesn't it simply mean guaranteeing a larger market for a country "z" that refuses to cooperate?
At least for first-tier countries, the countries that have legitimate governments that are trying to comply with a moral value system of governing that's acceptable to the world community, it will give them greater incentive to try to deal with this element that they still have in their country. And that will be your first success. I don't think Burma will be your first success. The real outlaw countries are going to be harder to deal with.

So maybe this cooperation will become infections?
Exactly.

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