The Killing of Veronica and Charity Bowers

One of the many heartbreaking stories told in Drug War Victims is that of Veronica Bowers and her 7-month-old daughter Charity Bowers, part of a missionary plane shot down over Peru in our drug war.

After 9 years, the CIA footage has finally been released of the tragic event. The footage is distant, yet you hear the voices of the Americans and Peruvians deciding the fate of the unknowing passengers. The casual approach exhibited to shooting down a plane full of people is absolutely sickening, particularly when it was clear that the most either side had was a rough guess that the plane might be a “bandito” rather than an “amigo.”

Guardian: CIA footage broadcast of fatal attack on plane carrying US missionaries in Peru: US agency denied covering up botched anti-drug operation that led to death of American woman and baby in 2001

“I’m at 4,000 feet. The military is here. I don’t know what they want,” [pilot] Donaldson says [to the tower].

Moments later the jets open fire and Donaldson is heard screaming: “They’re killing me! They’re killing me!”

The CIA operatives are then heard to say “tell them to terminate, don’t shoot”. But by then it was too late. Bowers and her daughter were killed by a bullet from the jet’s guns.

This is your drug war.

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37 Responses to The Killing of Veronica and Charity Bowers

  1. DdC says:

    ABC Nightline
    Story on Michigan Missionary Family’s Plane Shootdown
    U2b HoekstraPress February 04, 2010

    Cannabis News: Missionary
    Peru Missionary Relives Plane Tragedy July 05, 2002
    Report Shows Why Peru Shot Down Missionary Plane August 02, 2001
    Pilots Decry Missionary Downing As Violation April 26, 2001
    Accounts Differ on Why Missionary Plane Shot Down (Snipped) April 21, 2001

    Cannabis News: CIA
    Probe Dropped of CIA’s Role in Plane’s Downing February 07, 2005
    CIA and School of the Americas December 01, 2001
    CIA Failed to Identify Plane Downed in Peru April 23, 2001
    CIA Crew Urged Caution About Plane, Official Says April 22, 2001
    CIA Warning Was Late April 24, 2001
    An audiotape made aboard a U.S. surveillance plane shows that its CIA crew expressed doubts about whether a civilian aircraft they were tracking was smuggling drugs 20 minutes before it was shot down last week by the Peruvian air force. But they did not vigorously object until just before it came under fire.

    Kill the Messenger

    Cover-Ups, Prevarications, Subversions & Sabotage

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  3. claygooding says:

    This is just one of many. Why anyone believes our government is protecting our lives or health,with anything they do,is beyond me.
    And when they allowed the selling of the 2009 opium crop,it told me that we,the people would have to take our right to use marijuana from them,one state at a time.
    I know that they control any press conference the drug czar is in,but I don’t understand why some reporter has not asked the drug czar why he allowed that little deal.
    They gave the excuse that it was to avoid alienating the local population but those farmers didn’t care where their money for the opium came from,and they could have purchased the crop for less than 2% of their budget,napalmed it right there,and removed 80% of the worlds production of heroin.
    I am waiting to see what they do this year.

  4. Just me says:

    War on drugs =failure/death

  5. iDub says:

    Didn’t Obama authorize killing americans abroad? stop bitching now, its all right, its legal now.

  6. warren says:

    This country is doomed with assholes like that making decisions. There is no hope unless we have all out revolt. Prison is not the answer extermination is. The nazi are here.

  7. DdC says:

    They Live and learn Warren. These Nazi offspring, raised as spoiled brat yuppies. Learned that extermination cost money. The ovens pollute the air and then they get bad press. The modern nazi knows getting them sick with adulterated food and farm crops, fossil fools and booze, then selling them Pharmaceutical treatments. Is a win win. Profit over the expense of world domination. Collateral damage is a subsidiary of war. The more you blow up the more you can profit rebuilding later. Ask Aunuld’s offspring and the rest of the Calinarkoslut GOPerverts. Got 215?

    POT CLINIC RAID NETS 4 ARRESTS Cha cha cha change?

    On its website, West Coast Wellness touts its “personable and attractive female bud servers,” who are depicted wearing short black-and-green latex skirts, bikini tops and nurse hats. West Coast Wellness is one of the seven to nine medical marijuana distributors operating in Costa Mesa, city officials estimate.

    While California allows the cultivation, sales or usage of medical marijuana for those suffering from chronic pain, cancer and other serious ailments, Costa Mesa banned such business in 2005, arguing that its ordinance promotes health, safety and morals. The city backed up its anti-pot dispensary law with the Controlled Substances Act, a federal law prohibiting marijuana distribution.

    Oh my name it is nothin’
    My age it means less
    The country I come from
    Is called the Midwest
    I’s taught and brought up there
    The laws to abide
    And that land that I live in
    Has God on its side.

    When the Second World War
    Came to an end
    We forgave the Germans
    And we were friends
    Though they murdered six million
    In the ovens they fried
    The Germans now too
    Have God on their side.

    In a many dark hour
    I’ve been thinkin’ about this
    That Jesus Christ
    Was betrayed by a kiss
    But I can’t think for you
    You’ll have to decide
    Whether Veronica and Charity Bowers
    Had God on their side.

    So now as I’m leavin’
    I’m weary as Hell
    The confusion I’m feelin’
    Ain’t no tongue can tell
    The words fill my head
    And fall to the floor
    If God’s on our side
    He’ll stop the drug war.

  8. Just me says:

    One day I awoke,
    The veil removed from my eyes.
    Before me was horror,
    The corruption and lies.

    All I thought I knew,
    All I thought was right.
    My world is a puppet show,
    the players give me fright.

    For the chains they forge,
    Are for you and me.
    We will never see light,
    unless we fight to be free.

    Money ,power , and wealth,
    Is all they lust,all they crave.
    Laws they will use against us,
    Our lives they will enslave.

    Lord my eyes are open,
    my mine and body sore.
    Please make me your tool,
    To end this WAR !

  9. Just me says:

    One day I awoke,
    The veil removed from my eyes.
    Before me was horror,
    The corruption and lies.

    All I thought I knew,
    All I thought was right.
    My world is a puppet show,
    the players give me fright.

    For the chains they forge,
    Are for you and me.
    We will never see light,
    unlee we fight to be free.

    Money ,power , and wealth,
    Is all they lust,all they crave.
    Laws they willuse against us,
    Our lives they will enslave.

    Lord my eyes are open,
    my mind* and body sore.
    Please make me your tool,
    To end this WAR !

  10. BruceM says:

    From the video, it seems like the US guys were saying no, don’t go ahead with “phase three” (shooting them down) but the Peruvian air force really wanted some easy target practice so they’d have a good story about killin’ “bandidos” to tell their drunk buddies later on at the bar (after siesta of course). At one point the US pilot said “this is bullshit” (re: engaging this aircraft as it doesn’t fit the ‘bandido’ profile).

    Even if they are 100% sure there are drugs on the plane, they should just follow it and catch it when it lands. Get a search warrant, or if it crosses the border into the US then no warrant would even be needed. There is never valid cause to shoot down a plane merely because it’s carrying drugs (something the authorities can never be 100% sure about). Even if the plane ignores them, only if it starts to approach restricted airspace and appears to be a terrorist attack (i.e. 9-11 style attack) is there possibly valid cause to shoot down the plane.

    Dead mother and child. Well… if these were not religious “missionaries” (euphemism for narcissistic asshole with superiority complex along with extreme visionary and auditory hallucinations of “god”) trying to force their asinine fairytale beliefs on other people in other countries, I would feel sorry for them. Even though the government screwed up and killed the wrong people in the name of the drug war, the end result is one less religious nut, and one less child that was destined to grow into a religious nut, for society to have to deal with. I’m fine with that. I only feel sorry for the pilot who was hired to fly their plane. He’s the only innocent victim here.

  11. Pete says:

    Oh, yeah, that 7-month-old baby was just asking for it, wasn’t she? So I suppose you’d be OK with just going into a church and shooting up the nursery, huh?

    Bruce, I get it, we all get it — you think religion is responsible for a lot of evil in the world. Fine. I agree with you. But do you have to shove it down everyone’s throats in offensive ways at every opportunity?

    You were making excellent points, particularly in your second paragraph, and then you had to blow it and weaken your argument in order to take a cheap shot. You’re better than that.

  12. ezrydn says:

    The innocent person, the pilot, was the husband. Plane was a 4-seater Cessna. Husband and son in front. Mother and baby in back with leftover space to accomodate luggage. Between Peru and Brazil. That Cessna’s not going to make it to the US without landing and refueling. Peru doesn’t have access to Brazillian airspace.

  13. allan420 says:

    and let’s not forget Cap’n Jennifer Odom and her crew.

    these are among the names a Prohibitionist will never utter. The names they wish would go away. Whenever it happens (and I’m convinced it will happen) that someone cogently and passionately tells the stories of Prohibition’s harms and it gains mainstream steam, many heads will be turned. And why the cancer patients aren’t screaming from the highest perch in town that the gummint has delayed cannabis-cancer research by 35 years by burying the Virginia Medical College/NIH study, beats the heck out of me. We need to bludgeon the opposition with these details.

  14. Just me says:

    Come on Bruce ..are you kidding me? How many people think all laywers should die..hows that make you feel? How bout all the”nut job” cops that think all pot heads should die? Or the Nazi,s thinking all jews should die?!

    Really man…this kind of thinking is why we have wars.
    Why we have racism , poor people ..ect ect
    One group or person thinking they are better than the next group or person.

    That poor child may have grown up to be the next…what ever…most definately didnt deserve to die over a drug war.

  15. Jon Doe says:

    BruceM: Seriously dude, I think you need to wake up from this opium fantasy of yours in which you’re the only sane man alive and seven-month-olds deserve to die for what they *might* grow up to be.

  16. Hope says:

    DdC, Just Me.

    Thank you for your verse.

    Allan. When? Who? Why haven’t they already?

  17. allan420 says:

    @Hope… huh? lol…

  18. Hope says:

    Allan. You said, “Whenever it happens (and I’m convinced it will happen) that someone cogently and passionately tells the stories of Prohibition’s harms and it gains mainstream steam, many heads will be turned.”

    I was wondering, when… who…and why haven’t they already.

  19. Hope says:

    DdC’s post got me to looking through some of those old articles and comment threads over at C-News from that era.

    This one, among others, hits hard.

    Treachery Over The Andes

    April 24, 2001

    It’s incomprehensible that we still haven’t ended this horrible treachery and injustice.

  20. Hope says:

    And this one.

    U.S. Shares Fault In Peru Incident

    July 31, 2001

  21. DdC says:

    Dylan’s sorta one size fits all wars Hope…

    With god on Our side – Bob Dylan / Joan Baez

    With God On Our Side | Bob

    The Bowers massacre was only one incident in the scam colombians. Many more killed and maimed from the paramilitary and the diluted agent orange. Check out Mama Coca and the Monsanto poisons…

    Stop the War on Colombians!

  22. allan420 says:

    @Hope… ah, I see… I don’t know dear friend, but I guess we keep swinging that particular hammer (like Pete’s drug war victims page) over and over and over… and it will yield results.

    As close as I come at times to walking away from the disgusting nature of the drug war and the efforts fighting it, I just can’t. And ya know why…? …it’s those names. I can recite a great part of that litany pretty well, just off the top of my head. It was Zeke Hernandez’ story that intially put me over the top and got me involved far more than cannabis did. The drug war is vile. How we can distill our collective stupidity into such a potent and harmful force… sigh… Stephen King’s worst horror pales in comparison to reality’s terrors.

  23. Servetus says:

    “Whenever it happens (and I’m convinced it will happen) that someone cogently and passionately tells the stories of Prohibition’s harms….”

    We’re doing that. And it’s effective. The criticism that gets played out here and elsewhere each day on anti-prohibition blogs, and lately in the MSM, is the same type commentary and writing that helped crush the European inquisitions.

    What is not being done yet, but is something that could be done, is to erect a memorial to the slain victims of this latest drug war tragedy, Veronica and her infant daughter Charity Bowers. This is where good art and a high profile artist are useful.

    Francisco Goya’s 1799 aquatint etchings, collectively referred to as Los Caprichos, kicked the Spanish Inquisition’s butt at an international level. It took Napoleon’s soldiers and cannon to bring the venomous institution to a temporary halt (1811-1813) that eventually killed it in 1834, when further international criticism focused on Spain. Too bad Goya and Nap aren’t around anymore. We can still employ their methods, however.

    Getting back to memorials, these can depict a martyrdom whose symbol continues throughout the ages. This is necessary. The atrocities of this inglorious drug war encompass a message that needs repeating as often as the continuing public messages aimed at condemning the Holocaust.

    Never again.

  24. BruceM says:

    I concede my hatred of religion can be extremely heavy handed. But it’s religion, coupled with racism, which gave us prohibition and the drug war.

    “Missionaries” – religious nuts who go to other countries to force their beliefs down the throats of poor, starving people are not only every bit as evil as the drug warriors, but they greatly assisted the American government in spreading drug prohibition across the world.

    No, I don’t want to see a child die in a plane crash. But religion is a genetic disease, and the child of a religious person extreme enough to go to third world countries to proselytize is going to grow up to be a religious extremist him/herself. I know it’s harsh, and I’m certainly not going to hurt anyone myself, but if some action results in the death of a religious extremist and/or the child of a religious extremist, I’m not going to complain about it… at least not that particular incident (of course I’m not in favor of shooting down random planes because they might be carrying religious missionaries).

    I think it’s vitally important that those who oppose the drug war never forget the central role religion plays in supporting, justifying, and funding drug prohibition. Religion and recreational drugs serve the same market and are in direct competition with each other. Religion is the “opiate of the masses” and the last thing it wants is to have to compete with the real thing. It will lose. If the Catholic church had to compete with heroin, the Vatican would be bankrupt within a few years and there’d be a big “for sale” sign on the front door. And catholic priests aren’t gonna fuck our precious children for free.

    Religion should be treated just as harshly as the drug war.

  25. claygooding says:

    Religion is a volatile subject that has caused wars and been a justification for numerous crimes against humanity since time began. It is a crutch for some,and a club for others.
    It gives hope too some people that they will never die,even though the theory has no first hand witnesses proving it. Blind faith is the only thing required too believe that there is life after death.

  26. Jon Doe says:

    BruceM: Do you actually understand what Marx meant when he said “religion is the opiate of the masses”? He meant that it keeps the people docile and easy to control, as though they were heavily medicated with opium. He didn’t mean “opium is the spiritual balm the people need in place of religion!” After all, for Marx, what the people needed in place of religion was communism, specifically Marxist communism.

    But anyway, religion and drugs don’t complete with each other. Every religion has its sacred drug: Christianity (with the exception of a few revisionist sects) has wine, Islam has coffee (and for the Sufis) hashish, the old Shamanic traditions have the various natural psychedelics, etc.

    Religious leaders who support prohibition are not doing so because drugs represent a threat to their spiritual domain, they’re simply fulfilling the role of religion in public life: controlling the people. And what greater control can you have other deciding what goes into another person’s body? It’s a bit like dietary laws if you think about it.

  27. Servetus says:


    There are probably few people out there who have a lower opinion of religion than I do. Few can remain unaffected when they read the trial records of 16th century Spain in which eight-year-old boys were tortured to elicit confessions of Judaism. Especially when one of the few examples we have of someone not breaking under inquisitorial torture was an eight-year-old boy.

    What I try not to do is make my feelings personal. Individuals must be treated and regarded as such. I’m acquainted with people on the religious left, for example, aspiring missionaries in fact, who think much in same way we do on the subject of the drug war. For all we know, Veronica Bowers had little or no use for the drug war. It’s doubtful her husband has any regard for it by now, if he ever did.

    It’s not always the people, it’s the thing itself that’s objectionable. E’crasez l’infame.

  28. Hope says:

    Allan. My feelings exactly.

    There were so many. So many atrocities. But when they murdered Esequial Hernandaz… a floodgate of anger and outrage gave way in me. I promised myself, and that young man’s spirit and memory, that I would never forget him, as long as I had a mind, and that I would speak out against the atrocities done to him and so many others.

    DdC. You did a great job of making that song speak of the War on Drugs.

    Bruce. There are many what I call “traps”, in life and the way we think. One of them, and it is very real, is that we can become like that which we hate. Very easily, it seems.

  29. BruceM says:

    Jon Doe:

    BruceM: Do you actually understand what Marx meant when he said “religion is the opiate of the masses”? He meant that it keeps the people docile and easy to control, as though they were heavily medicated with opium. He didn’t mean “opium is the spiritual balm the people need in place of religion!”

    Indeed, he meant that religion keeps people docile and easy to control. But how does it do that? It makes them feel good and takes away their worries, concerns, and pain. The “knowledge” that there is a singular creator of the universe who loves you and has a personal relationship with you, who answers your prayers, and who will reward you with everlasting euphoria after you die is an extremely powerful euphoriant. Neurotheologists who have viewed the brains of religious people under an fMRI have found that the same pleasure centers of the brain are firing off as someone who has taken an opiate.

    Surely Marx didn’t know about the chemical/neurological similarities between religion and mu-agonists like morphine, heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl, etc. But if you’ve ever seen someone deep in prayer with their eyes closed, blabbering and drooling all over themselves (having what I call a “jesus orgasm”) and someone deep in an opiate nod, you can’t deny it’s the same neuro-chemical process going on. Just by differing means.

    Religious leaders all oppose recreational drug use because their business model is threatened by it. Instead of giving money to the church, people will buy drugs. Drugs are a safer, more effective means of acquiring artificial happiness than religion.

    Religion and opiates are fungible. Some drugs, like marijuana, may compliment rather than replace religion. But opiates work on the brain just like religion does.

    Servetus: I do try hard to focus my hatred on religion rather than the religious. But when I make excuses for religious people, too often do I feel like I’m giving them a free pass merely because they’re a person rather than an idea. I do believe in the person/idea distinction. But that doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t be angry at – or just plain hate – a religious person.

    Religious people who go to poor countries as “missionaries” to spread their religion to a captive, starving, desperate audience in exchange for food and medicine and basic humanitarian services is a horrible, cruel thing to do. You never see “christian missionaries” in wealthy countries like Japan. No, they go to poor countries, search out poor, desperate, hungry, sick non-christians, and say “aww you look hungry and sick? You want some food and medicine? Well come over here and learn about jesus and you can have some!” That is pure, despicable EVIL.

    If you passed a universal, worldwide law (somehow) that said missionaries are allowed to go wherever they want to give food and medical care to the needy but under no circumstances are they allowed to so much as MENTION their religion, let alone proselytize, it would put an instant end to all “missionary” work. Within 12 hours every last “missionary” would be on the next flight home.

    Hope: are you saying it’s hypocritical to hate those who hate us? If so, that’s just a classic case of Emerson’s “foolish consistency.”

  30. Hope says:

    Bruce, yes, in a way, I am. I’m saying you can get so caught up in nurturing and stirring your own hate that you can’t see that you’re just as dangerous, irrational, spiteful, vengeful, hypocritical, cruel, hateful, and crazy, in the same exact way, as those you are hating.

  31. Hope says:

    And you can feel that I’ve got a “Hobgoblin” and a “Little mind”.

    That’s fine. I refuse to waste my energy by hating you and for what good purpose. It’s just your opinion. If I allow anger or disappointment to turn to hatred… it’ll hurt me worse than you, anyway.

  32. Hope says:

    “Hating you”… I don’t mean just you… I mean anyone.

    I don’t hate you, of course. You’re a bristly bugger… but I don’t hate you. I think of you as my ally in this battle. A prickly ally, but an ally, just the same. We don’t have to agree on absolutely everything to be allies.

  33. Jon Doe says:

    “You never see “christian missionaries” in wealthy countries like Japan.”

    Actually, Christian communities like the Mormons send their missionaries to every spot on the globe. Also, while it maybe “EVIL” to give charity in exchange for indoctrination, hey, at least that’s something good you could say about missionaries: they’re the ones actually going to these poor, starving people and, well, giving them food (and sure a bible and a pamphlet too, but is providing literature really so immoral?). When was the last time you went to a third world country to offer aid?

  34. Hope says:

    You’re right, of course, Jon Doe. Lots of churches have “Missions” right here in this country.

  35. BruceM says:

    Religion is responsible for the deaths of billions and the suffering, enslavement, and unequal treatment of hundreds of billions more.

    I say some harsh things about religion/religious people and I’ve “become just as dangerous” as religion/religious people? Boy that’s one slippery slope.

    When I’m responsible for the death or suffering of ONE person, come back and we’ll talk.

    And yes lots of churches have “missions” here in America. But they do the same thing they do in foreign countries. They go find poor, hungry people in need of food and medicine and shelter, and say “you can have some food/medicine/a place to sleep BUT you have to learn about how Jesus died for your sins in exchange.” You don’t see missions in Beverly Hills trying to convert the billionaires.

    Again, pass a law that says religious people can feed and give medical care and shelter to poor people BUT they are not allowed to proselytize or mention their religion in any way, and that will be the immediate end of their “missionary” work. That says it all. They’re not going to spend the money on Ramen noodles and plastic spoons if they can’t get some converts out of it.

    Now, you may say “But Bruce, if they’re helping people who need help, who cares if they force their religious beliefs on those people?” I care, and the point is they’re not helping them out of the goodness of their hearts, but rather, only to sign up more paying customers and holy warriors for their particular brand of religion. Also, the poor, sick, imprisoned and homeless are the most vulnerable people out there, and to prey on them is truly evil. Evil always disguises itself as good. Best example ever: the drug war.

    I’ll be my usual blunt self and stipulate that I’d rather have thousands of people starve to death than get a little bit of food on the condition that they convert to X religion. Wanna teach them something, teach them how to farm/raise their own food. They don’t need bible lessons, they need agriculture lessons. Giving them religion just means they’re going to become divided between religious groups which means they’re going to start hacking each other’s limbs off, raping each other’s women and children, and burning down each other’s villages. It’s better they starve in peace. Religion is like alcohol – it brings out the inner violent asshole in people (and it’s easy to see why).

    Teach a man to fish, and he’ll never be hungry again. Teach a man to pray, and he’ll starve to death praying for a fish.

  36. Mike says:

    this is just a random question, but does anyone besides me think that the use of drugs [particularly cannabis] has made them see the truth about religion, or do you all think that before we sparked up, we already felt that way? i was raised to be a christian boy and slowly, but surely, began to realize that almost everything Bruce has said is true… but only to SOME extent…. i am, in no way, anywhere near as extreme as Bruce, but in all honesty, i agree with him.

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