In a worrying trend for Colombia, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s annual Integrated Illicit Crop Monitoring System (Simci) report has showed that cultivation of coca plants has increased by 13%, leading to potential cocaine hydrochloride (HCl) production of 1,738 tons—the highest level since 2013.
The Simci report identified Putumayo, Tibú (Norte de Santander), and Tumaco (Nariño) as key areas of coca cultivation, with a 6,500 hectare increase compared to 2021 levels which account for 65% of all coca in the country. And an alarming 49% of the total coca area in Colombia is located in special management zones, including 19% in black communities’ lands, 15% in forest reserves, 10% in indigenous reserves and 5% in national natural parks.
President Gustavo Petro and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, recently met for the Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Drugs to push for such a new approach. President Petro argued that consumer countries like the United States and Europe, which receive most of the cocaine that is trafficked from Colombia, must take responsibility for the drug problem. Petro has also proposed to help rural communities replace some 100,000 hectares of coca crops over the next four years. He has also promised more social investment in production areas and has said that aerial spraying with the herbicide glyphosate will not be resumed.
The report is a stark reminder of the tragic consequences of the failed war on drugs against Colombia. Now, more than ever, authorities must work towards finding alternative solutions that can help to reduce the prevalence of coca crops, while also providing security for communities affected by the drug trade.
Information from France 24