“The Fifth Horseman” speech by General Manuel Antonio Noriega
International Conference on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria — October 1973
Speaking before the International Conference on Narcotic Drugs, held in Vienna, Austria in October 1973, Lt. Col. Manuel Antonio Noriega, then head of the National Guard’s G-2, outlined his view of the philosophy and doctrine required in the battle against narcotics. Excerpts follow:
Intoxication is a form of collective and individual suicide, that in our time has acquired an increasingly cata strophic character.
Humanity has had a painful existence over the millennia. Hunger, plagues, wars, have decimated cities and natural disasters have plunged whole civilizations into the deep. But never have we seen disasters like those that confront us in our times.
As hunger, the plague, war, and death are the first four horsemen, drugs could well be the fifth horseman of the apocalypse foretold by the prophet. The characteristics of this tragedy produced by the use and abuse of drugs are its universality and its recent fabulous increase.
Today, no area in the world is immune to the damage done by the abuse of drugs.Such is the universality of the problem. The fact that the users tend to get younger by the day, demonstrates the nature of the problem.
The third horseman of the apocalypse, on his gallop over the known old world, spread the plague from the steppes of Mongolia to the resting place of the caravans of the noisy metropolis. The devastation caused by the black plague surpasses the limits of imagination. The fields are destroyed, nothing is planted, and nothing is reaped. Crisis and misery are conducive to plundering, beggardom, crime, and prostitution.
Between 1250 and 1346, humanity saw the greatest scourge it has suffered before the last two world wars. After these quarrels and the Vietnam War, which was a backlash of the last world war, humanity has started to suffer the scourge of drugs.
Every consumer of heroin or other “hard” drugs is a potential delinquent.He steals, falsifies, prostitutes himself, and kills. It is a proven fact that drug addicts take part in the growing violence within our society. Urban terrorism, the hijacking of airplanes, the attacks against innocent per sons under the shelter of internal or international political disputes, carried out under the influence of, or motivated by, stimulants and drugs, are as deadly and dangerous as automatic guns.
The gallop of this fifth horseman is not slow as was the era of the plague on the immense steppes. The drug addict travels in rapid turbo jets.It is a scientifically proven fact that those using drugs are always trying to attract others, especially minors.The consumers of illicit intoxicating drugs are traffickers or criminal inducers. Every drug addict is a burden to his family and to society. None is a producer in any honest paid activity. The propaganda spread by drug addicts who call themselves artists, that drugs stimulate their creative capacity, is proven false by the fact that no important work of art has been produced by a drug addict.
The social damage caused by a drug addict is evident. The philosophy that claims that “what I put into my body is my own business,” is refuted by the fact that all penal codes condemn this type of suicide, which slowly but inexorably kills its victim.It has been demonstrated that the so-called “hard” drugs, like LSD, heroin, and cocaine, are genetically harmful to humans. All those who use these drugs have to be bold, sick, or ignorant, given the extraordinary risks involved. There is no other rational way to explain this phenomenon. The principal toxic effect from the use of drugs is the permanent damage to the brain.
Finally, apart from the damage to the consumer, the drug is an element of corruption and an incentive to crime.The enormous profit derived from the illicit drug traffic is used to corrupt the authorities, including those in charge of the fight against this criminal activity.
We are facing, at present, a grave crisis in our institutions, our customs, in living together, and in the human existence….We [in Panama] are actors participating in a process of deep transformation of reality in our country.We want to supersede our present situation of injustice and de pendency through integration and development.The general well-being, the objective of social justice, can only be achieved by increasing production with the creative efforts of the collective.
We have not elaborated a political theory.We are work ing on a national popular experience.Our struggle has made us arrive at three convictions: Political existence has to be built as the projection of a more profound dimension of intellectual life. Without knowledge, there cannot be capability. There are no unsolvable problems, only incapable people. State and law are not aims, they are but simple tasks or occupations of the human vocation for culture, liberty, and justice.We in Panama have created a new state along these essential lines. Our third conviction is the existence of absolute values, superior and prior to the law of historical contingencies.
We believe in a universal morality, capable of influencing a universal peace. For man to live in dignity, peace is needed.There is no peace without the partnership of authority
and justice.The law must respond to ethics, internal or inter national politics to morality, and governing to prudence.
We are confronting the challenge of a universal problem that gravely affects our human identity.
In our battle, no country or institution dedicated to the best, be it church, school, civic organization, or communication media can isolate or declare themselves neutral. Isolation is no immunization and neutrality can be complicity with crime.Ideological conceptions and forms of government are temporary because they can be perfected.On the other hand, in the human being, and in humanity, not withstanding its succession in time and space, it is something permanent.Our struggle is in defense of life of man and the destiny of humanity….
Because of the fabulous illicit profits and the modalities of present communication, and the drug trade has the characteristics of a great multinational corporation that utilizes all the resources offered by corruption, which are infinite. We shall now refer to drugs and their history.
Before the 18th century the vice of smoking opium was practically unknown in China.In the decade of 1830, opium became the nucleus of exports, carried by the Portuguese through Macao and by the British.
The British East India Company held the monopoly of this poisonous commerce.The Chinese Emperor tried to end this criminal traffic in view of the effect of the drug on the morale of his people.Then started the “Opium War.” British hypocrisy explained that they did not declare the war because of the opium trade, that it was because of the insolence of the Emperor in denying the receipt of the ambassadors of His British Majesty.
The British Royal Navy bombarded the Chinese coast and forced the Chinese to sign the “Treaty of Nanking” in August of 1842, aboard a British warship.The principal clauses of the treaty established the opening of five ports, Canton, Amoy, Fuchow, Ningpo, and Shanghai, for residence of English merchants; extraterritorial areas for consular agents; the concession of Hong Kong to Great Britain; and China’s compensation to the British for the confiscated opium.Steam navigation increased the drug traffic.
History shows that drugs have been used by leaders as a weapon to weaken the people they tried to dominate, to corrupt their authorities and for the illicit enrichment of traffickers who operated legally or illegally. This gun-based diplomacy caused China to be dominated by the soldiers, merchants, and foreign missionaries. The opium traffic produced millions of drug addicts as it weakened the Chinese people. From 1842 to 1848, China imported 233,000 tons of opium. In 1906 the Shanghai Commissions estimated that 15 million Chinese smoked the drug.At the start of the 19th century, North American sailing ships carried Turkish and Persian opium to China….
The opium traffic was a decisive factor in the rapid development of the economy and the expansion of the United States of America in Asia. In 1839, just before the opium war, Russel & Co., a North American corporation, occupied third place in the importation of this drug from India into China. Great families of New England consolidated their fortunes based on opium.The accumulated profits in this traffic served to finance the construction of the railways that opened the route to the West….
Opium, together with other drugs, constitutes the weapon of a species of genocide in which the victims pay to have themselves killed.
So, as in the past, drugs were used for colonial conquest and imperialistic expansion.Their use was tolerated among the racial minorities because drugs reduce its victims to al most total powerlessness.Heroin extended into the black and Puerto Rican ghettos. The criminal organization that handled and still handles its traffic, started operations as a great corporation.
At the end of the seventies (sic), the drug reached the residences of the rich and powerful, whose daughters and sons doped themselves.And in Indochina, the army that was supposed to fight in defense of the democratic ideals and the interests of the Empire, was cut down by drugs.
In gravity, as measured by rooted corruption, opium was follwed by cocaine, an alcaloid derived and extracted from the coca plant which grows in Peru, Bolivia and other coun tries of South America.
In the era of the Spanish conquest, the operator of gold mines who imposed forced labor on the Indians, delivered them rations of coca leaves, instead of food.The population of the ancient Inca Empire which was calculated at 10 million inhabitants was reduced to less than 2 million. In the Potosi mines alone, 150 Indians died every day.Coca was then a state monopoly.
Let us refer now, briefly, to those drugs of chemical origin and the vast range of psychotropic agents known as psychedelics that in a few years converted drug addiction from rare clinic cases into a problem of the masses, with a double purpose: destroy the society they repudiate, and destroy themselves….
The masses doped with LSD and other psychotropics, also have their apostle, Timothy Leary, a North American, who in an interview made by the BBC in 1967 said: “Within the next 15 years our Supreme Court will smoke marijuana. It is inevitable, because the students in our best universities are doing it now.”
The psychedelic revolution does not only propose to change society, but also human nature: “We will change the predominant conscience in order to change the world.When the use of drugs is universal, we will change the world.”
The followers mobilized by Leary and LSD abandoned their homes and the use of soap, they let their hair and fingernails grow, talked of love and their cult to flowers.The first thing that the apostle offered was unlimited sexual freedom. . .
The crime consisted in corruption and destroying a generation of pathetically non-cultural individuals who rebelled against culture and the corrupting system of their elders, but
they did not replace it with something morally superior which is the purpose of all constructive revolutions.All revolutions, when positive, entail a moral purpose. The “psychedelic revolution” has only brought suffering to humanity, especially to the youth which should be happy and healthy in order to build a better world.
Youth must rebel against injustice, against tyranny, against what is bad; it must have battle-ready moral strength. But the scientific facts have proven that the role of narcotics has been to tame and destroy our youth. . . .
. . .The routes and means of the international drug traffic are known and however great the power of organized crime, the powers of the states and the people united and mobilized in a joint action of vital defense, can liquidate that universal menace.
For a preventative action we would have to coordinate the task of education with that of vigilance over public spectacles and programming of massive media, such as television and movies because in exalting violence and pornography we are stimulating the use of drugs.. ..
The medical treatment for the recovery of drug addicts is a technical question. . . .
The fundamental criterion is that a drug addict is not only a sick person and a passive element in the economy of the country, but also an actively contagious agent and a potential delinquent.