Colombia, the largest producer of cocaine, breaks its record for coca cultivation

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Colombia, the largest producer of cocaïne, breaks its record for coca crops

Former rebel of the disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Carlos Abril, controls coca crops in Catatumbo, Norte de Santander department, Colombia, August 20, 2022.

The historic record of coca crops broken in 2021 in Colombia confirms the new left-wing president Gustavo Petro in his desire to change his strategy in the fight against cocaine trafficking, because he believes that “the war against drugs failed”.

The annual report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), published on Thursday, highlights that with 204,000 hectares of coca leaf plantations in 2021, the world's largest cocaine producer world broke its historic record for sown area, up 43% from 2020.

A record high never recorded by the UN since it began tracking coca production in 2001. Colombia is by far the world's largest producer, ahead of Peru and Bolivia.

Along with the cultivation of coca leaves, the production of cocaine sent to the United States, the world's largest consumer, and Europe has also increased, from 1,010 tons to 1,400 tons.

< p class="e-p">The UN points out that the increase in the areas planted and the production of cocaine is mainly due to territorial vulnerability, the increase in global demand and the presence of armed actors who profit from this trade.

The departments of Narino and Putumayo, on the border with Ecuador, are the regions where we produce the most with 89,266 hectares. Catatumbo, a neighboring region of Venezuela, comes second with 42,576 hectares.

For the UN, this is an upward trend that has been consolidating since 2014, despite the intense crackdown on drug traffickers.

A new argument in Gustavo Petro's rhetoric aimed at ending the war on drugs.

Invested at the beginning of August, he had felt from his first speeches that it was time to have a new international convention which accepts that the war on drugs has failed, to prefer a strong policy of consumption prevention in developed countries.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro during his victory in Bogota with his relatives.

He reiterated his remarks in September to the United Nations General Assembly, calling for an end to the irrational war on drugs.

At the presentation of this report in Bogota, the Minister of Justice, Nestor Osuna, judged that these figures are precisely the technical evidence that constitutes the starting point for the construction of a new drug policy.< /p>

The Colombian government is still fine-tuning its new anti-trafficking strategy, which rules out the legalization of cocaine, although Mr. Osuna believed that one day the trade and cocaine trafficking will have to be regulated on a global scale.

During an early October visit to Bogota, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was on the same page as President Petro on this issue. more holistic approach.

Colombian president defends coca growers, promises rural reform to boost food production and economic benefits for those who abandon illicit crops.

In addition to surrendering drug traffickers to justice in exchange for benefits, the new Colombian president aims for total peace in the country ravaged by more than half a century of internal conflict fueled by the lucrative cocaine trade.

He has resumed negotiations with the National Liberation Army, the last guerrilla constituted as such still active in the country, and also intends to discuss with the dissidents of the ex-FARC, who reject the 2016 peace accords.

Despite this displayed goodwill, President Petro is facing his first setback in the polls since coming to power two months ago. He now enjoys the support of only 46% of those polled, 10 points less than in the previous survey.

The economic situation, including unemployment, is the main concern of Colombians in a country that is suffering the effects of global inflation and a historic devaluation of the local currency against the dollar.

Wednesday, Mr. Petro blamed the crisis on the United States and its economic policies.

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