"Narco-Deforestation": Media Analysis and Spatial Activity of the Illicit Drug Trade and Environmental Degradation in Guatemala
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The deterioration of the Central American forests by cattle ranchers, oil palm, and extractive industries is well documented. The extent of environmental degradation from the highly active illicit drug trade in Guatemala, however, is less understood. Drawing from a media database analyzing cocaine seizures and transport in Guatemala created by a group of researchers and students, this thesis contributes to this research gap by answering the following question: How has cocaine trafficking varied across time, space and volume in Guatemala from the years 2000 – 2018? And what are the primary sources and patterns of cocaine trafficking events that have driven environmental degradation in Guatemala? In analyzing the maps created with a Guatemalan media database in ArcMaps software and content analysis of the media database - this thesis identifies a highly uneven geography of cocaine trafficking and environmental impacts that differ by mode of air, land, and maritime transport.
Narco-deforestation is evident with cocaine related money laundering contributing indirectly to the creation of unsustainable markets. These unsustainable markets coercively privatize the land and perpetuates the structural degradation of sustainable indigenous communities in Guatemala. An unsustainable industry this paper examines is cattle ranching: a market that contributes directly to destructive land use practices.