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
"According to official figures, eradication policies reduced the spread of coca leaf crops in Colombia from about 180,000 hectares in 2000 to 90,000 in 2002 and to 40,000 in 2010, but aerial spraying was suspended in 2014. There was a new increase, reaching almost 200 thousand in 2016.
Under this scenario, Colombia expects yet another increase in cocaine production, with some 2, 400 tons in 2017, compared to 1,700 in 2016 and 1,200 in 2015. El Universal
According to the spokesperson for the Popular Dialogue and Agreement in Guaviare, Armando Fuentes, the $1 million pesos per month the government pays for crop substitution activities and a one-time disbursement of $800,000 pesos for the implementation of self-sustaining projects, are not enough considering the high cost of living in areas where planting coca has been the sole source of income. La Republica
We want to set up a dialogue with the organizations of peasants who cultivate coca and present to them the the options offered by the government. Money has been allocated for projects to will replace these crops. Our plan is to make available food assistance resources linked to employment for one year. There are 50,000 places available for those who decide to become part of the project. After the process, we will seek to work for two years with alternative programs that will replace the production of coca crops. We hope to establish a real dialogue around this issue and to develop new cultural projects to benefit the peasantry. Arcadia
But forced eradication is not as viable as it seems. According to Pardo, fumigating one hectare of coca costs about 20 million pesos. The problem is that "for a hectare to stop producing it must be fumigated four or five times. We are facing a program (voluntary substitution) that is much more cost effective because it also ensures the transformation of territory and a new life for people who have been thrown into coca cultivation today," said the high commissioner. The idea, after all, is to find a definitive solution. For that reason, rather than forced eradication, a voluntary substitution will be sought so that the affected territories become a source of potential for the nation's economy." Pacifista
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
Colombia has received billions of dollars in American aid to eradicate the drug trade. But in the coming weeks, the government says, it will begin processing licenses for a small number of companies, including PharmaCielo, under a 2015 law that allows the cultivation of medical marijuana. The New York Times
The release of Colombian underworld boss "Perra loca" from a US prison is adding to fears that a flood of recently freed drug lords and paramilitaries could have a violent impact on the country's already volatile criminal landscape. It is far from guaranteed that "Perra loca" or any other recently released criminal overlords will have the motivation or the capacity to regain their lost criminal empires. But the coincidence of so many returning to the scene at a moment when Colombia's underworld is undergoing tectonic shifts in power risks aggravating an already unstable situation. Crime Insight
Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine and the nation with the highest number of acreage dedicated to coca crops. In, Briceño, Antioquia where a joint FARC-Government crop substitution plan has been implemented, there are an estimated 1,500 hectares of illicit crops, feeding some 2,000 families. Peasants in these areas rust the guerrillas, who buy coca and play the role of authority.
Reducing these numbers would reshape the nation's international image and help taper drug trafficking, a generator of violence and public health problems. Residents expect the government to comply with the pilot plan, so that FARC leave the business.Projekte.jonamag.de
"The goal is to replace approximately 50,000 hectares of illicit crops during the first year of implementation in more than 40 municipalities in the most affected departments," the government and the rebels said in a joint statement. VOA