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Plata o Plomo (Javdani) Response Paper Analysis Essay

In her essay, “Plato o Plomo,” Marie Javdani compares & contrasts the stories of two boys, whom live separately in two countries, to signify their indirect relation. The phrase “Plato o Plomo” translates to “silver or lead”, meaning that peasants of South America can either accept a bribe & live (silver) or take a bullet & die (lead). Eric, an American boy, & Miguel, a Colombian, are both out on the road on a Friday night, but their intentions are entirely different. After scoring drugs, Eric whistles while walking down his street to meet up with his friends for “a bit of fun.” Miguel creeps down the road in his village, praying for the last time in his life; he to be murdered by the guerillas who have been threatening him & his father. The two stories of both Eric & Miguel begin to unite as Javdani narrates the cause & effect of America & Colombia, showing how choices made in the U.S. can affect the harsh realities of Colombia’s drug cartel. By using parallelism in the stories of Eric & Miguel, Javdani identifies the factors contributing to high drug activity. “Eric & Miguel represent opposite poles in what the United States government refers to as the ‘war on drugs.’” Eric’s drug use symbolizes the demand of production in Colombia, where Miguel’s village is terrorized by the ruling drug lords & paramilitaries.

The strategy that the writer uses to represent both Eric & Miguel is cause & effect. This use of parallelism combined with cause & effect is meant to emphasize two sides to the political turmoil of drug violence in Colombia. Javdani mentions that U.S. money being sent to Colombia is ineffective in its purpose, which is to enforce order over the high drug activity that rules Colombia. Because Colombia produces a majority of the world’s cocaine & heroine, the U.S believes that putting an end to the growth of the coca, a plant used for making cocaine & heroine, can stop the use of drugs in the states. But the billions of aid dollars sent to fund, supply, and train Colombian military units have only escalated the violent paramilitaries that support drug cartels. As a result of rebel drug lords having control, Colombians have no choice but to cooperate with the production of coca on their land. This approach to eliminating drug activity was obviously not successful, it is becoming easier to see that drug trafficking is market-driven; the end to the demand.

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