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Colombia reaches new record for drug crops and cocaine production in 2022

Colombiathe world’s largest producer of cocaine, increased coca leaf crops by almost 13% in 2022 to reach a record of 230,000 hectares, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published this Monday.

Until 2021, the country had 204,000 hectares of coca plantations, 43% more than in 2020.

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Although there was a slowdown in growth in the last period, the figure is the highest recorded by the UN since it began monitoring cocaine production in 2001.

Along with drug crops, the manufacture of drugs that come from Colombiamainly towards USA and Europe. From 1,400 tons of cocaine it went on to produce 1,738.

The increasing trend has been consolidating since 2014, despite the persecution of drug trafficking over five decades with the help of millions of dollars from Washington and the signing of the peace agreement with the powerful guerrilla of the FARC in 2016.

Almost half of the drug crops (49%) are on lands of black communities, forest reserves and indigenous reservations, according to the report.

Thus, Colombia remains by far the largest coca leaf grower in the world, ahead of Peru and Bolivia. The United States, which has historically financed the anti-drug fight, is the largest consumer of Colombian cocaine.

According to the report, the “77% of the net increase was concentrated in Putumayo (around 20,000 ha)” near the border with Ecuadora country increasingly hit by violence linked to drug trafficking.

“Failure”

The Colombian president, the leftist Gustavo Petrohas denounced the “failure” of the fight against drugs and proposed to the United States to define a new approach based on the prevention of consumption in developed economies.

According to the Ministry of Justice, from 2012 to 2022, more than 840,000 hectares of coca were forcibly eradicated, but the planted area increased by 327%.

On Saturday, Petro led a summit on the issue with representatives from twenty Latin American countries, including the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

From the Colombian city of Cali (southwest), Petro and his Mexican counterpart agreed to unify the voices in Latin America to demand from the world a change that involves a comprehensive treatment of the fight against drugs.

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According to the leftist presidents, repression enriches the mafias, provokes more violence and does not attack consumption in the great powers or the poverty in which drug organizations are incubated.

The policy called the war on drugs has failed. It does not work“Petro stated in the Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Drugs.

Despite the disarmament of the FARC, the then most powerful guerrilla on the continent, a war persists in Colombia that pits rebels, drug traffickers, paramilitaries and state agents against each other.

Financed by the drug traffickingthe illegal minery and the extortionarmed groups multiply.

The first leftist president in the country’s history advocates a policy of “total peace” to defuse the prolonged conflict through dialogue with all illegal actors.

In half a century, the trail of violence leaves 9 million victims, most of them displaced.

Fentanyl

The Minister of Justice, Nestor Osunaassured in an interview with Blu Radio this Monday that it is a moment “strategic” to switch to a focus “holistic” in the fight against drug crops.

The head of the ministry assured that the country must take advantage of the window that opens when cocaine prices are falling due to its colossal supply and the rise of other drugs such as fentanyl. This is an opioid up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, which enters through Mexico to the United States and kills almost 200 people a day in that country, according to official data.

The communities that are dedicated to the coca plantation suffer “vulnerabilities“, as a lack of basic services, and are “subjected to stigma“he said at a press conference on Monday Candice Welschregional director of UNODC.

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The government’s new policy consists of offering farmers, “who are mostly poor”, other alternatives: continue growing coca but for legal purposes such as the manufacture of cosmetics, textiles, food, etc.; be linked to a community project and not an individual one for a change of economy in the coca-growing regions; either “that they go from being coca growers to forest rangers” in protected areas and receive a salary for taking care of the environment, Osuna explained.

Welsch said he received “optimistically” said advertisements.

Towards the end of its mandate in 2026, the government aims to reduce production of cocaine to 900 tons and reduce the hectares of coca leaf by 40% to about 150,000 hectares.

Source: Elcomercio

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