According to Colombia’s authorities, dissident FARC guerrillas launched mortars into a crowd of police and citizens, but locals and human rights organizations claim police opened fire on coca growers in a clash Thursday that left at least eight farmers dead. [...] The National Police reported no injured civilians or security forces. Local groups say only civilians were killed or injured in the outbreak of violence. Some reports speak of more than 50 injured protesters. French press agency AFP reported that both locals and human rights defenders say police opened fire on the coca farmers who were protesting police efforts to forcibly eradicate coca, the base in ingredient of cocaine. Atticus Ballesteros, Colombia Reports
In the face of Colombia’s coca boom, patience and perseverance are needed most. The Santos government’s eradication efforts will probably bring some reduction in the much-watched statistic of cultivated hectares, taking some political pressure off next year. Success doesn’t depend on Santos, ultimately, but on his successor continuing and intensifying the peace accords’ commitment to investing in rural areas.
If Colombia’s political leadership slacks off again, allowing violent criminals to fill the vacuum, it will have blown a huge opportunity. And Colombia’s stubborn coca problem will only persist. World Politics Review
Mr Cundalatin and the other 120 families who live in the region of La Esmeralda and work on its 20 coca plantations are living with uncertainty as Farc, the country’s largest rebel group, evolves from armed warfare to peaceful politics. A truce, signed in December, promises them peace, but it may also strip them of their livelihood. “The peace process is like a new life for us,” says Mr Cundalatin. Wil Crisp, The Times (Paywall)
"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