As he prepares for his first official visit to the Trump White House this Thursday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that the Congress's approval of $391 million in resources would strengthen the Peace Colombia program. Part of these resources will be invested in the crop substitution program unveiled Monday in Briceño, Antioquia, which seeks to change coca leaf for bananas in 62 thousand hectares. Blu Radio
[..] despite Uribe's recent outreach to the Trump administration regarding the FARC peace deal, he probably won't succeed in unraveling the talks altogether. Instead, the best the former president can hope for is to see his party win the presidency next year, giving it some measure of influence over the pace of the peace deal's and counternarcotics policy's implementation. Stratfor
A surge in coca production has cast a shadow over the peace process, but Colombia remains committed to implementing a deal with leftist FARC guerrillas to end a half-century of civil war, Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon said in an interview Monday. Washington Times
Peasants from Cauca, Putumayo, Nariño, and Meta have recently clashed with the Army. The public force arrived at dozens of coca plantations, equipment in hand, to forcefully eradicate them. The peasants, as expected, have prevented it from happening. The magazine Pacifista! interviewed Eduardo Díaz, charged by the government with the implementation of a illicit crops substitution plan, about the government's relationship with the growers, about FARC responsibility in increasing the crops and on the position of Colombia before the Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Pacifista!
A “trust, but verify” approach starts with patience. Rather than giving political leaders a quick but evanescent “win” for next year’s press release, the new strategy promises to lock in permanent reductions in coca cultivation. And in its remaining year and a half, the Santos government must prove through actions that it is seizing the historic opportunity that the FARC peace accord provides. Colombia Peace
Seventeen years and $10 billion after the U.S. government launched the counternarcotics and security package known as Plan Colombia, America’s closest drug-war ally is covered with more than 460,000 acres of coca. Colombian farmers have never grown so much, not even when Pablo Escobar ruled the drug trade. The Washington Post
"But the central strategic problem of crop substitution remains the slim profit margins for legal products such as coffee, honey and chocolate. Until the international agricultural market solves its subsidies problem, coca leaf will always be Colombia’s best cash crop. It raises the question: what if coca were legal, too?" Iban de Rementeria, The Conversation
Colombia’s peace has come at a price as the country finds itself back at the top of the list of global cocaine producers. Of course, peace is not directly correlated with a proliferation of cocaine, but in the negotiation process with the rebel group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration has inadvertently allowed for a flourishing of coca and a surge in cocaine production. Unfortunately, proposed cuts to U.S. assistance to Colombia will exacerbate the problem further if this rollback becomes a reality. The longer-term benefit of peace in Colombia is worth the cost of providing Colombia with the resources it needs to present viable alternatives to drug profits and war. Ultimately, this is in the interest of both Colombia and the United States. Amanda Mattingly. World Policy Blog
[...] despite receiving over $10 billion in US anti-narcotics aid to wipe out the drug trade that paid for this war, Colombia is currently producing more cocaine than ever before. Hectare after hectare of bright green coca bushes have sprung up around the country, and hundreds of tons of the white powder they produce are pouring out of Colombia in speedboats, cargo ships and homemade submarines.
The latest report from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCF) of UNDOC points to a marked increase in coca cultivation in the region. ¡PACIFISTA! visit the depths of the biggest coca-growing region in Colombia.
The coca leaf is collected every 3 months, whereas as alternatives such as cocao, banana or coconut is harvested annually. Furthermore, with coca, the revenues are four-fold. From his two hectares, Don José harvests 12 kilos of leaves that sell for 2 million pesos ($680 US) per kilo. He earns about 96 million pesos a year ($32,850 US), of which 40 million pesos are left over as net revenues.
Exponential profits have boosted coca plantations in recent years, despite the considerable amounts invested to combat it. According to the US State Department, Colombia experienced a 42% increase in illegal cultivation from 2014 to 2015. Open Democracy