UN: Colombia's Coca Crops Grew to 'Historic Levels'

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the potential production of coca in Colombia, and the area in the country sown with coca — the base ingredient used to produce cocaine — have grown to their highest levels in two decades.

UN: Colombia's Coca Crops Grew to 'Historic Levels'
Image credit: AA/picture alliance [via DW]

Facts

  • According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the potential production of coca in Colombia, and the area in the country sown with coca — the base ingredient used to produce cocaine — have grown to their highest levels in two decades.
  • The UNODC said on Thursday that around 204K hectares of the leaf were planted in 2021, while rising cultivation of coca saw cocaine production increase to 1.4K tons — up from just over 1K tons the year before. The agency added that, as well as threatening the nation's "cultural potential," the scale of cultivation could pose a threat to biodiversity.
  • The regional director for UNODC Andean and Southern Cone urged Bogota to commit to greater social spending and increased security for communities attempting to move away from growing coca towards economies based on legal crop production.
  • The UN report specifies that coca crops are flourishing in regions with close proximity to national borders or routes via the sea, including the North Santander region in the northeast of the country, and two departments in the southwest where Colombia borders Ecuador. Armed criminal gangs, drug traffickers, and drug producers reportedly collaborate in these areas.
  • Colombian Justice Minister Nestor Osuna has described the report's findings as clear evidence "of the failure of the war on drugs." The South American nation's new leftist Pres. Gustavo Petro has signaled an intention to move away from current policy towards a more "holistic" approach.
  • Petro has also suggested an amnesty for drug traffickers who voluntarily surrender themselves and give up their criminal careers. According to Osuna, new policies will not yet include the legalization of cocaine, and US Sec. of State Antony Blinken expressed support for Petro's approach.

Sources: Reuters, DW, Al Jazeera, BBC News, and France24.

Narratives

  • Left narrative, as provided by The Economist. Biden has already shown that he doesn't support the archaic and ineffective "war on drugs" approach by pardoning roughly 6K Americans convicted of simple possession of marijuana. Rather than wasting even more taxpayer dollars on this nonsensical policy — $10B was wasted in Colombia alone between 2000 and 2020 — Biden should support Petro's more progressive approach.
  • Right narrative, as provided by Unherd."Progressively" expanding cocaine's availability would put citizens at risk and fail to put Colombian drug lords out of business. The legalization lobby is wrong — 200K Americans were struggling with horrific cocaine addiction before it became illegal in the US in the early 1900s. Playing with the thought of legalizing this dangerous drug would be a nightmare for the Colombian people and beyond.

Predictions