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They Cloned Tyrone (2023): Subverting Stereotypes & Government Conspiracies



They Cloned Tyrone is a loud, absurd, and charming sci-fi film that's equal parts blaxploitation, social commentary, and confirmed conspiracy theories. Following three unlikely heroes as they uncover a government conspiracy that weaponizes cultural staples and stereotypes against them. Gabe unpacks the harmful stereotypes and the power of Blaxploitation films. Kat gives an in-depth history lesson about the government and CIA's role in the role of drug trafficking around the world and how they use their power to oppress.


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They Cloned Tyrone (2023)

A series of eerie events thrusts an unlikely trio onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy in this pulpy mystery caper.

Director: Juel Taylor 

 

They Cloned Tyrone: Blaxploitation, Weaponizing Stereotypes and Unlikely Heroes

by gabe castro


RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

Synopsis:

They Cloned Tyrone is a loud, absurd, and charming sci-fi film that's equal parts blaxploitation, social commentary, and confirmed conspiracy theories. We follow three unlikely heroes, a drug dealer (John Boyega), a sex worker (Teyonah Parris), and a pimp (Jamie Fox) as they uncover a conspiracy in their neighborhood that shakes their understanding of the world around them and their place in it. 


Fontaine, a local drug dealer, runs down a competitor trying to sell on his turf. Later, while he’s out to pick up his money from pimp, Slick Charles, he is gunned down in the parking lot by the rival dealers. You’d imagine that’s the end of Fontaine, only he wakes up the next morning seemingly unaware he died the day before. He goes about his normal routine before returning to Slick Charles’ for his dues. Slick is, reasonably, shook by the ghost of Fontaine on his doorstep. He brings in one of his girls, Yo-yo who confirms the story. Fontaine died just last night, in the parking lot so how is here with them?


This leads the trio to investigate the insane story. On their journey, they uncover a hidden underground lab below someone’s home. The lab pushes them further down the rabbit hole after they encounter a very white Black man, a mysterious white powder, and most perplexingly, a clone of Fontaine. As they work to uncover how deep this goes they find their whole neighborhood, the Glen, is being surveilled and controlled by a mysterious higher power. Their cultural staples are twisted into tools for control from their music, food, hair care, and even their religion. 


Nothing is as it seems and this new reality sends Fontaine on a spiral. Yo-yo’s sleuthing and journalism skills come in handy as she works to fight to free the Glen from this influence. She tells Fontaine in a heartfelt scene, “This shit is bigger than you. It’s bigger than me.” And when Fontaine refuses his hero call-to-adventure, Yo-yo answers the call herself. Despite so much of their lives being controlled and manipulated, each of the trio learns in their own time the threads of individuality and community that are deserving of protection. It takes the whole hood but they manage to take down the sinister Cabin-in-the-Woods-esque conspiracy that seeks to erase their culture, identity and force assimilation through threat of annihilation. 


The villain, played brilliantly by Keifer Sutherland (sometimes when a white person plays a villain too well in Black horror, it has me thinking) explains in the film the purpose saying, “America was an experiment. A half-baked idea cooked up by aristocratic ideologues living in mansions built by slaves. And when they checked out, they left us with the bill. A country constantly at war with itself. No common ground, no dialogue, no peace. If we’re all on the same page, and not ripping each other’s heads off, then all of this has a chance to work. And that’s what we strive for. Keeping these United States united.”


The film is brilliantly casted with John Boyega as Fontaine. Having experience with sci-fi criticisms of the government with his role as Moses in Attack the Block. Attack the Block is a film in a which a group of young Black boys must fight to protect their block from monstrous aliens. It starts with the boys robbing a young white woman who’s quick to demand justice and to label them as monsters. Through the film, the boys protect her and transform her understanding of them, revealing her prejudices. But the biggest comparison I find between ATB and TCT is a declaration by Moses. "Government probably bred those things to kill black boys. First they sent in drugs, then they sent guns, and now they're sending monsters in to kill us. They don't care, man. We ain't killing each other fast enough. So they decided to speed up the process." And if they ain’t killing us, they’re reprogramming us, forcing assimilation.


Teyonah Parris is absolutely charming as always and her portrayal of Yo-yo elevates the piece, Yo-yo is the heart of the film and her care for others offers a softer lens into an unsettling plot. Sidenote but she has also been in a commercial for McDonald’s which was purposely catered towards Black people. Considering the commercials and critiques of fast food in the film, I think this is a fun extra layer. 


The film exists in the modern day, we’re aware of this due to the technology available and from the characters discussing things like “Blockchains” and Bitcoin. But the aesthetic of the characters and the Glen as a whole feels more ambiguous. Director Juel Taylor explained in an interview on Decider, They Cloned Tyrone’ Ending Explained: What Do the Clones Represent?, “It’s not a period piece, but when you go certain places it feels like you’re in a different period, so I wanted the Glen to just be out of space and time. This could be in any city, in any year. And obviously we put a couple of clues in there. You see an iPhone but you also see old flip phones and tube TVs, and the decor is dated, and all of that is by design to kind of create a level of temporal dissonance.” Heavily inspired by the Blaxploitation film movement, Taylor skillfully blends the staples of the 70s film with this modern day horror film. They Cloned Tyrone, like the Blaxspoitation films that inspired it, subverted stereotypes and reframed Black villains and victims into heroes who fought against oppression and “the Man.” 


An article on FilmLifestyle.com, What Is Blaxploitation: The Essential Guide To The Subgenre, writer Matt Crawford explains some of the main characteristics of Blaxsploitation films that we can see clearly in They Cloned Tyrone, 

“One of the most recognizable characteristics is their urban setting, often highlighting the gritty realities of inner-city life. The music score also plays a pivotal role in these films. Funk and soul tracks not only added a layer of cool to the characters but also reflected the cultural trends of the time.” I’ll talk about the music’s impact in the next section but this is such an important part of this film and the Blaxsploitation films that inspired them which often featured overt lyrics and messages within the songs. Crawford continues with, “The genre is also known for its aesthetic choices. Costumes and set designs were extravagant and bold, mirroring the flamboyant fashions and attitudes of the era. The use of bright colors and flashy clothes was intended to empower characters. Such visual boldness also foregrounded cultural pride and individuality.” And despite the film being modern day, the colorful wardrobe of the characters paints a picture of individuality and unabashed pride. Crawford also expands on the theme of the films saying, “Finally, these movies frequently address themes like racial injustice, economic hardship, and the fight against organized crime. They presented African American heroes who could outsmart and outfight their adversaries, offering a form of cinematic escapism that was both entertaining and empowering.”


Weaponizing Stereotypes & Cultural Staples

The villainous government organization unveiled in the film used many Black staples and stereotypes to control the Glen. At first, the trio uncovers loud and absurd conspiracies, example: fried chicken and grape juice. Playing at the stereotypes that Black people love these things, the government has been using the mysterious powder they found in the lab in the chicken and grape juice. Now the food and drink has the Glen laughing hysterically, too distracted by this unreasonable joy to ask questions. The toxicity of the fast food industry and its insidious predatory relationship with Black and brown communities has a sordid history. With many Black, brown and lower-income communities in cities living in what are called, “food deserts,” these chain restaurants have the neighborhoods in a chokehold. The lack of access to fresh, healthy, affordable and sustainable food contributes to growing health issues. The Food Empowerment Project has a great article about Food Deserts where they explain, “According to a report prepared for Congress by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, about 2.3 million people (or 2.2 percent of all US households) live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car.” They go on to explain that a defining characteristic and issue of food deserts is socio-economic, “they are most commonly found in black and brown communities and low-income areas (where many people don’t have cars). Studies have found that wealthy districts have three times as many supermarkets as poor ones do, that white neighborhoods contain an average of four times as many supermarkets as predominantly black ones do, and that grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection. People’s choices about what to eat are severely limited by the options available to them and what they can afford—and many food deserts contain an overabundance of fast food chains selling cheap “meat” and dairy-based foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Processed foods (such as snack cakes, chips and soda) typically sold by corner delis, convenience stores and liquor stores are usually just as unhealthy.”


The chicken place also has comically loud and goofy commercials that promote a joyful and life-changing experience at their restaurant, promoting hysteria. In an interview, director Juel Taylor mentioned that had the film been released when they originally planned, they’d have premiered before the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich inspired insane lines. However, the pandemic delayed their production so they missed out on that particular predictory commentary. Fast Food has had a greasy relationship with the Black community, with many of their ads being obviously “urbanized” to cater to the demographic. You’ll catch a commercial using outdated slang, dropping g’s at the end of words, and promoting a transformative lifestyle through their food and service. There’s a great video about the history of these commercials and their connection to minstrel work by Garrison Hayes on Youtube titled, The INFAMOUS “Black” McDonald’s commercials


In addition to the weaponization of fried chicken and grape juice, the experiment turns religion and hair care against the community too. The local church, representing the southern baptist movements of motivating preachers, soulful music, and fanaticism has been sharpened into a tool. Below the church is the main government base of operations. Above, the pastor shouts about obedience, promoting ignorance, to ignore the worries around them. The Pastor shouts in that sing-songy pastor rhetoric, “His eyes. Are everywhere. Keeping watch over the wicked and the good, but also the wicked. And do you know what he wants most out of each and every one of you? Obedience. “ He works to ease the anxiety, dismissing the concerns that could distract them from that obedience, “Cause It don’t matter how bad your life is. It don’t matter that you’re about to get evicted. It don’t matter if your grandson Jamal was gunned down in a drive-by shooting right next to the dairy queen.” Yo-yo in response whispers that, “They give Jim Jones a run for his money.” We talked in our episode last week on Get Out that Rob’s mention of Jeffrey Dahmer was intentional as he was a serial killer who specifically sought out Black men. Well, Jim Jones is right there alongside that monster having gone from civil rights activist to mass murderer after he poisoned the kool-aid (see: Flavor Aid) killing thousands of his congregation made up almost entirely of Black people. 


The hair care comes through when Yo-yo discovers they’ve been poisoning the relaxer to work similarly to the fried chicken, the opiate of the masses, sedating the community so they don’t fight against the oppression and control. There’s a critique here on beauty standards. Having Yo-yo as our hero who has sported a full fro confront the menace of straightening your hair is commentary on Black women needing to manipulate their natural hair to conform to white beauty expectations (see any article or story where a Black woman was told her natural hair was not appropriate for work). In the underground lab testing, we see a woman in a Clockwork Orange-type torture device being subjected to images of Black women having their hair straightened and being softly lectured that she too can be beautiful.  Later, we find that Yo-yo has been wearing a wig the whole time and this is actually a lifesaver, protecting her from the relaxer treatment and allowing her to fight against the scientists. Scientists who didn’t even know she was wearing a wig, they’re that dense. 


The last weaponized stereotype I’ll mention is the music. Music has such a strong impact on the film and the community. Throughout the film, the music is feeding us secret messages. It inspires obedience and controls the emotions of the community whether overtly through lyrics and titles. In the underground lab two men are scene fighting as the scientists play a track titled, “Kill a Muthafucka.mp3” before hugging it out to a track called, “I need a Hug.mp3”  There’s a history in America of villainizing rap music and blaming it for violence, so this experiment is that theory made manifest. Be sure to pay attention to the songs on the radio and throughout to catch the subtleties too like when we hear Diana Ross’ Love Hangover at the same time we see a poster for the experiment that says, “Unity Starts Here” at the top and “Winning the Race of the Future” at the bottom with a white man scientist holding a double helix, right at the time Ross says, “If there’s a cure for this, I don’t want it.”


Even more interesting, is the control from music we can’t even hear. In an interview on Youtube, Director Juel Taylor Uncovers the Easter Eggs in They Cloned Tyrone | Netflix, Taylor confesses to using Subaural Frequencies,  which are frequencies of sound below the threshold of hearing. The music they made that controls the crowd of people outside the strip club is a subtle morse code that says things like

“Stop and surround them, stop and subdue,” then later on when the crowd calms down the message is, “Carry on” or “As you were.” Which, as a sound designer, is SO cool.


Assimilation is better than Annihilation

In the end, the big reveal for the experiments is that the scientist behind the cloning and the whole lab is a Black man. Not just any Black man either, it's the OG Fontaine. This man lived through the instilled memories of our drug dealer Fontaine and his answer to, “How can we get them to stop hurting us,” was to become them. As Hollow Man Sutherland explained in his villain speech, we need to keep these united states, united. OG Fontaine now works to turn all Black people into white people in a weird reverse-Get Out premise. This is why throughout the film we’ve encountered so many white people with fro’s, the hair it turns out is stubborn. 


In an article on Afro-Cinemaphile titled, The Truths and Symbolisms in “They Cloned Tyrone” | by ASUS BUTTERFLY they expand on the theme of assimilation saying, “The clones are a metaphor for the way in which white America only finds Black people and Black culture palatable—and worthy of the money, power, and comfort of white society—if they are white-washed.” How many trends or styles have been ripped from Black and brown identities and relabeled for white audiences. (Looking at you “clean girl” aesthetic which is really just Latine makeup). It’s Appropriation 101. In addition to this reframing of Black culture to a whitewashed lesser version, there's also the act of oppression by making the Glen an undesirable area prompting neglect. (You can watch any of our videos on redlining to learn more on how America does this without science fiction). Asus Butterfly goes on to say, “If the scientists have their way, eventually all Black people will be white. “Assimilation is better than annihilation,” JBioam tells Fontaine.”


Government Control

The biggest theme of commentary can be found with the governmental control theme. The story, like Blaxsploitation films that inspired it, (including Black Dynamite where the villain is revealed to be Tricky Dick, Richard Nixon - the film also features Black Dynamite’s brand of controlling liquor, Anaconda Malt Liquor), makes a preposterous version of a real villain, the CIA and government. Kat will discuss the truth of this in more detail in their section but one of the biggest conspiracies that are very real is the idea that the CIA was behind the crack epidemic in American cities and the motivation behind this was to control and harm Black communities. 


Taylor isn’t shy about the intentions of the film saying in an interview with GQ, They Cloned Tyrone' Director Juel Taylor on His Favorite Conspiracies and Winning Over Erykah Badu, that “It was going to be called, Reagan Era. And my team was like, "Nah, dog, you've got to call it They Cloned Tyrone." I thought people wouldn't take it seriously. And then I was like, "But yeah, you probably shouldn't take it seriously." 


The film is loud about its commentary while entertaining us. Like Get Out and Us, the absurdification of the conspiracies doesn’t minimize them but instead, confirms them. When we look at the absurd premise and laugh off how silly the shouting pastor is and the relaxing relaxer, it allows us to view the truth. Sure, it’s not that but it’s certainly something isn’t it. In an interview with NBC News, How ‘They Cloned Tyrone’ Transforms Racial Archetypes into Unlikely Heroes, Taylor admits to the intention of the film, “We’re really going out of our way not to be like, ‘This is what it means about the state of the Black community. You’re going to watch it and draw a conclusion that may or may not even be something we intended, but it doesn’t make it any less valid.”

 

The Covert Dance: CIA, Drug Trade, and its Impact on Black Americans

by Kat Kushin


RED: Quotes, someone else's words.


In case you forgot that we live in an insidious country that actively harms humanity, or you are just as tired as we are, today we’re unpacking Reagan, their economic policy and America’s (CIA and OSS) Role in organized crime, as well as the drug trade. The drug trade is relevant to the spread of cocaine, crack, heroin and other drugs into the US, which deeply impacted impoverished Black neighborhoods. If you already know the gist of that history this section will not be anything new to you. And as a trigger warning, many of the things The United States Government has done are very upsetting, and have caused extensive harm both internationally and nationally. If you are not in a place where you feel safe hearing that information right now or if you don't wanna see my face or hear my voice speak on these things, but still have interest learning about this stuff we’ll have links in our show notes as well as on our blog. The reason we’re unpacking this is obvious in the context of They Cloned Tyrone, a film that in many ways represents this history and its impact. Many of these claims have been admitted by the OSS/CIA in Congressional releases as a result of lawsuits filed against the agency. As we discussed in our episode on “Us”, it is fairly common for the US to release information on past atrocities as a distraction for current ones. 


The intricate relationship between intelligence agencies and illicit activities, notably the collaboration between the CIA and organized crime, has left an indelible mark on the history of drug trade. The reality of the CIA’s complicity in funding the drugs that were sold and distributed across Black Neighborhoods, combined with the economic policies enacted by Ronald Reagan deeply impacted Black American communities. The shift in public opinion surrounding poverty as a whole, combined with racism, fueled the narrative pushed by the Reagan Administration and has also impacted media and public opinion surrounding support services. Today we are exploring how the United States, the CIA(Central Intelligence Agency)/OSS (Office of Strategic Services), and President Reagan impacted Black communities as well as other nations, shedding light on the intricate connections between US funded organized crime and the crack epidemic. I do want to clarify, the US and the CIA have been doing horrible things long before Reagan, things just really came to a head during Reagan’s presidency. The information I am presenting either connects to the film directly, or establishes context for how we got here. As well as provides a more clear understanding of what our government and its intelligence agencies are capable of, in the interest of eliminating doubt. 


A Timeline: From a Congressional Report INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1999 (House of Representatives - May 07, 1998) Titled A Tangled Web: A History of CIA Complicity in Drug International Trafficking -- Institute for Policy Studies

The precursor to what we see take place during Reagan’s presidency was the US alignment with organized crime and international drug smuggling. The rationale for these engagements were to “stop communism”, “control US financial and territorial interests”, “protect national security”, and “avoid congressional oversight”. The control and alliances with international drug smuggling provided finances that did not need congressional approval, and provided easy access to chemicals and drugs for interrogations, and control. Whether intentional or not, the results of the USA’s policy around prioritizing “national security” and “US territorial and financial interests” over human lives has negatively impacted our country and many others as a result. The drugs that made it here were a direct result of either government funding, intervention or neglect. 


So how did we get here? During World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), the precursor organizations to the CIA, forged alliances with leaders of the Italian Mafia. Notably, figures like Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Joe Adonis, and Frank Costello were recruited from the New York and Chicago underworlds. The collaboration aimed to maintain contact with Sicilian Mafia leaders exiled by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Domestically, the goal was to prevent sabotage on East Coast ports, while in Italy, it aimed to gather intelligence on Sicily and suppress the growing Italian Communist Party. We know the United States loves to flex stopping communism as a smoke screen for atrocities. So, while Charles 'Lucky' Luciano was imprisoned in New York, he earned a wartime service pardon and was deported to Italy. There, he established a heroin empire by diverting supplies from the legal market and building connections in Lebanon and Turkey. These connections supplied morphine base to labs in Sicily. Additionally, the OSS and ONI collaborated with Chinese gangsters that controlled vast opium, morphine, and heroin supplies, which contributed to the establishment of the post-World War II heroin trade's third pillar in the Golden Triangle – the border region of Thailand, Burma, Laos, and China's Yunnan Province.…it’s almost like during this time it would have been great if the government and the OSS/ONI focused more on stopping the genocide of my family and millions of others that our PA congressmen love to leverage as justification for backing Israel and the current genocide taking place against the Palestinian people along with the destruction of Palestine as a whole… instead of funneling money into drug trades to “stop communism”. Loud sigh Internal screaming


After the war, In 1947, the newly formed CIA engaged in the U.S. intelligence community's anti-communist efforts. The agency collaborated with the Mafia to secure control over Sicily, providing support for their battle against Communist unions in Marseille. During this time, Financial aid was directed to Corsican mobsters involved in heroin smuggling, particularly in their struggle for control of the city's docks. By 1951, a partnership between Charles 'Lucky' Luciano and the Corsicans led to the establishment of the notorious 'French Connection,' dominating the global heroin trade until the early 1970s. Additionally, the CIA recruited members of organized crime groups in Japan to ensure the country's alignment with the non-communist world. Subsequently, the Japanese Yakuza became a significant source of methamphetamine in Hawaii.


These connections to the international drug trade gave the CIA access to chemicals and drugs that would be used to conduct experiments and interrogations. In 1950, the CIA initiated Project Bluebird to explore the potential use of certain drugs for improving interrogation methods. This effort evolved into a broader program, authorized by CIA head Allen Dulles in April 1953, focused on the 'covert use of biological and chemical materials' as part of the agency's ongoing behavior control efforts. Under names like Project Artichoke and Project Chatter, these projects persisted into the 1960s. The programs involved hundreds of unwitting test subjects who were administered various drugs, including LSD. This specific instance really makes me think of They Cloned Tyrone, in that it is not far-fetched to think the government would have a secret underground bunker where it was kidnapping, and experimenting on people without their consent. As many historical accounts reinforce the CIA’s capacity to do so. 


As we move into the 1960s, the CIA, in support of the U.S. war in Vietnam, renewed old and established new connections with Laotian, Burmese, and Thai drug merchants, as well as corrupt military and political leaders in Southeast Asia. Despite the notable increase in heroin production during this period, the agency's dealings with these individuals attracted minimal attention until the early 1970s. Then, In 1967, Manuel Antonio Noriega became a CIA asset, initially recruited by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in 1959. Following his assumption of leadership in Panama's intelligence service after the 1968 military coup, Noriega became a valuable asset for U.S. covert operations. CIA Director George Bush paid Noriega $110,000 in 1976, despite evidence of his involvement in drug trafficking dating back to 1971. While payments were suspended during the Carter administration, Noriega returned to the U.S. payroll when President Reagan assumed office in 1981. Throughout the 1980s, Noriega was handsomely rewarded for supporting Contra forces in Nicaragua, receiving $200,000 from the CIA in 1986 alone.


In May 1970, a Christian Science Monitor correspondent revealed that the CIA was aware of, if not directly involved in, the extensive movement of opium out of Laos. A charter pilot claimed that opium shipments received special CIA clearance and monitoring during flights southward out of the country. This revelation coincided with around 30,000 U.S. service members in Vietnam being addicted to heroin. By 1972, Yale University doctoral student Alfred McCoy published a groundbreaking study titled "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia," exposing how Cold War politics and U.S. covert operations contributed to a heroin boom in the Golden Triangle. The CIA attempted to suppress McCoy's book. But, In 1973, Thai national Puttapron Khramkhruan was arrested in connection with the seizure of 59 pounds of opium in Chicago. As a CIA informant on narcotics trafficking in northern Thailand, Khramkhruan claims that the agency had full knowledge of his actions. The U.S. Justice Department states that the CIA quashed the case to avoid potential embarrassment due to Khramkhruan's involvement with CIA activities in Thailand, Burma, and elsewhere.


By June 1975, Mexican police, aided by U.S. drug agents, arrested Alberto Sicilia Falcon, whose Tijuana-based operation reportedly generated $3.6 million per week from cocaine and marijuana sales in the United States. Sicilia claimed to be a CIA protege, trained as part of the agency's anti-Castro efforts. In exchange for assisting in weapons movement to certain groups in Central America, the CIA allegedly facilitated his drug trafficking. In 1974, Sicilia's aide, Jose Egozi, a CIA-trained intelligence officer and Bay of Pigs veteran, reportedly secured agency support for a right-wing plot to overthrow the Portuguese government. Among Sicilia's supporters are influential figures, including Miguel Nazar Haro, head of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS), acknowledged by the CIA as its 'most important source in Mexico and Central America.' When Nazar is implicated in a stolen car ring later on, the CIA intervened to prevent his indictment in the United States.


In April 1978, a Soviet-backed coup in Afghanistan paved the way for explosive growth in the Southwest Asian heroin trade. The CIA-supported rebel Mujahedeen expanded opium production to fund their insurgency. Between 1982 and 1989, the CIA sent billions of dollars in weapons and aid to the Mujahideen, resulting in a significant increase in annual opium production in Afghanistan – reaching about 800 tons from 250 tons. By 1986, the State Department acknowledged Afghanistan as probably the world's largest producer of opium for export and the primary source of Southwest Asian heroin in the United States. Despite this, U.S. officials failed to take action to curb production, maintaining public support for the Mujahideen and ensuring smooth relations with Pakistan, whose leaders were deeply implicated in the heroin trade and assisted in channeling CIA support to the Afghan rebels.


In June 1980, the CIA, despite prior knowledge, failed to prevent members of the Bolivian military, assisted by Argentine counterparts, from orchestrating the 'Cocaine Coup.' Former DEA agent Michael Levine contended that the agency not only failed to intervene but actively supported cocaine trafficking in Bolivia. Government officials attempting to combat traffickers reportedly faced violence, including torture and death, orchestrated by CIA-sponsored paramilitary terrorists under the command of fugitive Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, who was also allegedly protected by the CIA.


In February 1985, DEA agent Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena was kidnapped and murdered in Mexico. DEA, FBI, and U.S. Customs Service investigators accused the CIA of obstructing their investigation, alleging that the CIA prioritized protecting its assets, including top drug trafficker Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo. In 1982, the DEA discovered that Felix Gallardo was moving $20 million monthly through a Bank of America account, but the CIA did not cooperate with the investigation. Gallardo's main partner, Honduran drug lord Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, had amassed a $2-billion fortune as a cocaine supplier to Alberto Sicilia Falcon. Matta's air transport firm, SETCO, received $186,000 from the U.S. State Department to fly 'humanitarian supplies' to the Nicaraguan Contras from 1983 to 1985. Government witnesses in the trials of Camarena's accused killers alleged that the CIA protected leading Mexican drug traffickers in exchange for their financial support of the Contras.


In January 1988, the Reagan Administration deemed Manuel Noriega no longer useful to the Contra cause, and approved an indictment of Noriega on drug charges. U.S. Senate investigators had discovered substantial information about the criminal involvement of top Panamanian officials for nearly two decades, with little response from the United States. By April 1989, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Communications, led by Sen. John Kerry, released a 1,166-page report on drug corruption in Central America and the Caribbean. The report reveals substantial evidence of drug smuggling by individuals associated with the Contras, their suppliers, pilots, and mercenaries working in the region. U.S. officials, the subcommittee notes, failed to address the drug issue to avoid jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua. Some "senior policy makers" believed that using drug money was a "perfect solution" to the Contras' funding problems.

 

In January 1993, Honduran businessman Eugenio Molina Osorio was arrested in Lubbock, Texas, for supplying $90,000 worth of cocaine to DEA agents. Molina claimed to work for the CIA, providing political intelligence. Subsequently, a letter from CIA headquarters led to the dismissal of the case. Molina later admitted his drug involvement wasn't a CIA operation but acknowledged the agency protected him due to his value as a political intelligence source in Honduras. In November 1996, former head of the Venezuelan National Guard and CIA operative Gen. Ramon Gullien Davila was indicted in Miami on charges of smuggling up to 22 tons of cocaine into the United States. Over a ton of cocaine was shipped into the country with CIA approval as part of an undercover program aimed at catching drug smugglers, an operation kept secret from other U.S. agencies.


There were people who called these issues out, who were heavily scrutinized, suppressed, or discredited. As we mentioned before Alfred McCoy, was suppressed by the CIA and later journalist Gary Webb was as well. In an article titled: What We Really Know About the CIA and Crack | by DANIEL FINN on the Jacobin they discuss the controversial stance of Gary Webb, who wrote for the San Jose Mercury News. Webb wrote a series titled the “ DARK ALLIANCE: THE STORY BEHIND THE CRACK EXPLOSION” on August 18th 1996, which argued that the CIA had been funneling drugs into LA to be distributed in Black Neighborhoods. Specifically in THE CIA-CONTRA-CRACK COCAINE CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS from the US Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s website - stated: The introduction to the first installment of the series read:“For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found.

This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the "crack" capital of the world. The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America . . . and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.'s gangs to buy automatic weapons.” The three-day article series, titled "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion," states Ricky Donnell Ross, a 19-year-old who, in the early 1980s, became a significant figure in a Los Angeles drug operation. The articles depict Ross as a disillusioned young man on the streets of South-Central Los Angeles. Starting with small-scale cocaine peddling, Ross quickly rose to become one of the largest cocaine dealers in southern California, ultimately facing federal drug trafficking charges in March 1996. The Dark Alliance series asserts that Ross' ascent in the drug trade was facilitated by Oscar Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses, individuals linked to the Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN), a group associated with the Nicaraguan Contras. Blandon and Meneses allegedly supplied Ross with large quantities of cocaine, which he converted into crack and distributed in the black communities of South Central Los Angeles. The profits from this drug trafficking operation were claimed to have been used by Blandon and Meneses to support the Contra army's war efforts. 


In the Jacobin article they note that while there were holes and flaws in Webb’s reporting, further articles that came out after, including the John Kerry Report and Managing a Nightmare by Nicholas Dujmovic, claimed that the CIA was at the very least complicit in these happenings. In the article Jacobin they say “The CIA claimed that any story linking it to the 1980s crack cocaine explosion was conspiratorial slander. But the evidence of its complicity is all there in the congressional record.” While the CIA’s intention was maintaining “national security”, and “American interests” the evidence showcases that they were ready and willing to sacrifice the Black community and those impacted by poverty to maintain it. In another article titled: MANAGING A NIGHTMARE - How the CIA Watched Over the Destruction of Gary Webb | The Intercept | By Ryan Devereaux they say that in 1985, more than a decade before the Dark Alliance was published there were journalists like Robert Parry and Brian Barger that also outlined the Contras involvement in cocaine trafficking as a means to fund the war effort in nicaragua, and “In a move that foreshadowed Webb’s experience, the Reagan White House launched “a concerted behind-the-scenes campaign to besmirch the professionalism of Parry and Barger and to discredit all reporting on the contras and drugs,”. Additionally, The Jacobin article references another, specifically a 1997 article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled "The Storm over the Dark Alliance" by Peter Kornbluh, where he highlights that there was “no question that “Dark Alliance” included flaws, which the CIA was able to exploit.” Kornbluh said the series was “problematically sourced” and criticized it for “repeatedly promised evidence that, on close reading, it did not deliver.” It failed to definitively connect the story’s key players to the CIA, he noted, and there were inconsistencies in Webb’s timeline of events. But Kornbluh also uncovered problems with the retaliatory reports described as “balanced” by the CIA. In the case of the L.A. Times, he wrote, the paper “stumbled into some of the same problems of hyperbole, selectivity, and credibility that it was attempting to expose” while ignoring declassified evidence (also neglected by the  New York Times and the Washington Post) that lent credibility to Webb’s thesis. “Clearly, there was room to advance the contra/drug/CIA story rather than simply denounce it,” Kornbluh wrote.” In Webb’s own recollection of events, before he unfortunate losing his life in 2006, he reflected in his book Into the Buzzsaw. Webb said: “Prior to “Dark Alliance, I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job. Them truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.” 


The Jacobin article goes on to explain the results of the John Kerry Report stating:

“The report quoted testimony from the head of the CIA’s Central American Task Force, Alan Fiers, about links between the Contras and drug smuggling: “It is not a couple of people. It is a lot of people.” Referring to one high-profile Contra leader, Edén Pastora, Fiers was equally candid: “We knew that everyone around Pastora was involved in cocaine.” They argue that the complicity did not end there, and that while the Justice Department officials denied allegations until 1986, the report indicated the FBI had “significant information regarding the involvement of narcotics traffickers in Contra operations” in its possession by that point. For its part, the State Department had “selected four companies owned and operated by narcotics traffickers to supply humanitarian assistance to the Contras.” It was still doing business with one firm, DIACSA, six months after its principals were indicted for cocaine smuggling and money laundering.”  Additionally Cuban exiles that had strong ties to the US government and the CIA had been supporting the Contras. The Kerry Report found that the Cuban exiles' support included: “supplies and training, was funded in part with drug money.” and found that “the largest Contra group, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, “did move Contra funds through a narcotics trafficking enterprise and money laundering operation.” This kind of activity was an open secret in government circles: U.S. officials involved in assisting the Contras knew that drug smugglers were exploiting the clandestine infrastructure established to support the war and that Contras were receiving assistance derived from drug trafficking. Instead of reporting these individuals to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, it appears that some officials may have turned a blind eye to these activities.”” They continue that the report provided plenty of support to the accusations that the CIA at least indirectly facilitated the drug trade. They say that: “Even the agency’s inspector general, Frederick Hitz, grudgingly confirmed the broad thrust of the “turning a blind eye” charge: “There are instances where CIA did not in an expeditious or consistent fashion cut off relationships with individuals supporting the Contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug trafficking activity or take action to resolve the allegations.”

“Reagan administration official Oliver North’s diary was heavily redacted before the Iran-Contra hearings, but it still contained entries like “Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S.” from August 1985. The Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega also benefited from Washington’s indulgence, as the report pointed out: “Each U.S. government agency which had a relationship with Noriega turned a blind eye to his corruption and drug dealing, even as he was emerging as a key player on behalf of the Medellin cartel.”


Why is this relevant to They Cloned Tyrone? 

These allegations and the historical context surrounding them, provide the backdrop for the Glen. It validates and reinforces the justified distrust of organizations like the CIA, and our government. That while there is “not enough” evidence, although that is debatable, to prove without a doubt that the CIA directly funneled drugs into Black Neighborhoods, there is enough evidence to prove that they were at the very least complicit and funding players in the trade that made that funneling possible. That the US government and the CIA are not above experimenting on its population, as a means of control, and are willing to use drugs as a means to do so. And that our government has evidenced instances, that it has openly admitted to manipulating and funding crime organizations to fund wars, to avoid congressional oversight, and do whatever the fuck they think protects “National Security” and “American Interests”. Even if that comes at the cost of millions of innocent lives. To prevent Communism, I guess? 


Reaganomics and the Impact on Black Economic Mobility

In unpacking the philosophies surrounding Reaganomics and the viewpoints of those in power during this time, it is very clear the visceral hatred this administration felt towards those in poverty. There are also audio recordings to evidence Reagan was very racist. The combination of these two very harmful biases, deeply influenced Reagan’s economic policy and directly harmed the Black community. It’s not so different from some of the arguments seen today to remove free lunch programs for children, arguments against raising the minimum wage, or even the myth of welfare queens and Government benefit exploitation. It’s clear as well in the distribution of financial resources that this country hasn’t cared about human lives more than money in a really long time…if ever. In a paper titled: Reaganomics and Its Implications for African-American Family Life by Maurice A. St. Pierre in the Journal of Black Studies 1991, they outline the perspectives of many Reagan supporting economists of the time. The context surrounding the 1980s was that there was double-digit inflation that was not based on previous understanding of demand economics Keynesian model that had been previously stressed. Instead Reagan sought after supply-side economics-Other supply-siders, like Bruce Bartlett (1981), former staff member to then-Republican Congressman Jack Kemp, specifically, drew attention to the need to: (a) index the tax code to inflation, (b) cut tax rates across the board, (c) cap government spending, and (d) reduce regulations and government credit activities as a prescription for improving the American economy (pp. 208-209). The irony around these views was that simultaneously the government was sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund wars and CIA backed agents that they knew were dealing drugs…so. They continue to say that the goal of supply side economics was to “help the American economy” and argued it would “benefit minorities and, by extension, Black Americans.”

To give you a better idea of the kinds of people we’re dealing with: Economist Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution (cited in "How Supply Siders," 1980), for example, argued in favor of dismantling such government programs as the minimum wage, aid to education, and job training, and turning those issues over to the private sector. Sowell asserted that, like many other government programs, the minimum wage "severely limits the freedom of Blacks to make decisions about at what wage they will accept employment" (p. 78). He supported the elimination of current aid-to-education programs in which only public schools received government funds, even though these schools often did not provide adequate education.” Instead he sought a system that would provide vouchers to parents so they could choose what school they thought offered the best education. Additionally, he was against government regulations, because they implied people would be better off with less options. “The above arguments are of interest because they are reflective of some of the basic values of American life -"there ain't no such thing as a free lunch," was the way economist Arthur Shenfield (1981, pp. 56-57) emphasized the work ethic-which some would argue have made America the great country that it is.“ In reading this, the delusion is delusioning. 


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Reagan administration's budget cuts disproportionately impacted Black Americans, especially in housing and urban development. The emphasis on increased defense spending (by 144.5%) led to a surge in military enlistment among young Black males due to limited job opportunities. Reaganomics exacerbated existing disparities, increasing the likelihood of poverty among Black children. Reductions in government assistance programs, such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Child Support Enforcement, hit Black families harder than White families. Reagan-era reforms, driven by supply-side economics, aimed to cut welfare spending, affecting AFDC and Child Support Enforcement. These changes, including job search requirements and cuts in allowances for larger AFDC households, disproportionately affected Black American families. Reforms in Child Support Enforcement led to tensions and disparities in support for Black women. Cuts to summer meal programs, increased restrictions on free breakfast and lunch, and changes to food stamp regulations further strained vulnerable communities. Additionally, the elimination of programs like CETA and Public Service Employment, along with funding cuts to the Job Corps, hindered job opportunities for economically disadvantaged individuals, particularly Black Americans. These policy changes forced many to seek financial support outside traditional avenues due to a lack of legitimate earning opportunities.


From the youtube video of the lecture titled Reaganomics: The Impact On Black Economic Mobility the institute of Politics from Harvard Kennedy School, recorded March of 1982, The lecture on Reaganomics and its impact on Black economic mobility discusses the shift in public perception around welfare during the Reagan administration. Professor Ronald Ferguson highlights a survey comparing attitudes towards "Public Welfare" versus "Help for the Needy." The results reveal that when labeled as "Public Welfare," many respondents considered it the first option to cut funding. This shift in perception, driven by the Reagan administration, portrayed welfare recipients as lazy and taking advantage of the system. Despite Reagan's intention to incentivize work, the legislation resulted in people opting to stay on welfare for financial security, as low wages from jobs couldn't cover basic necessities. This situation persists today, with companies like Walmart paying low wages, leaving employees dependent on support services.


Reaganomics:


America and the Drug Trade:

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