Saturday, June 3, 2023

Candice Welsch: All the peace in Colombia creates real potential to reduce illicit profits

“As before the peace agreement with the FARC (in 2016), the culture increased because there was a type of perverse incentive where everyone knew that they would come in the way of development if they had crops,” said a Canadian expert in an interview with Télam Argentina at the time;

After the agreement of the mission to temporarily stabilize the security in the regions most affected by the conflict, but the dissidents who refused to lay down their arms, together with other clandestine organizations and criminal groups, occupied the territories left by the FARC and kept the drugs. trade as one of its sources of financing, according to official and UN data.

“We have spoken with the Colombian government and they are aware of all this. If they are going to negotiate with new groups, it is important to have a plan to have a presence immediately after the state, because, if not, it will be there.” there is always the risk that others will occupy that territory”, he said when asked about the possible consequences of the dialogue with armed organizations such as the National Liberation Army (ELN).

“Of course, peace is always useful and I think there is a real potential to reduce the crop. These crops are in very bare areas, where there is no presence of the state, there is no development, so there is a lot of potential to improve the situation,” he added.

According to the most recent Unodc annual report in Colombia there was a 43% increase in the area planted with coca leaf, the raw material for the production of cocaine, which went from 143,000 hectares in 2020 to 204,000 in 2021, with 62% of these crops concentrated in areas of greatest vulnerability (Nariño, Norte de Santander and Putumayo).

With the arrival of Gustavo Pedro to power in August 2022, the executive proposed modifying the anti-medical policy, which in the opinion of the president “failed”, making millions dead in America and criminal organizations with “more important” than many governments., regional.

Among other points, the new approach proposed by Peter promotes the prevention of drug addiction in the criminalization, developing a joint role with other countries in the region and eliminating forced eradication to be voluntary through the incentives of small elites, a policy that does not work. which are produced from the coca leaf on an industrial scale.

Regarding the latter and based on evidence, Welsch commented that “voluntary uprooting with the development of alternatives is more effective in the long term” than forced uprooting through coercion by the security forces.

“We were able to compare the areas where there was forced eradication with others where there was voluntary eradication with an alternative development program and we could see that there was much less planting in these,” he added.

The organization organizes, for example, cooperates with farmers to produce illegal crops with others, such as cocoa, rubber, coffee, sugar cane, honey.

Welsch explained that “coercive eradication is a tool” but that it alone “cannot be a sustainable solution” because “excess alternatives” and “the presence of the State” are also required, among other things.

“It is important to have a comprehensive, holistic, balanced approach, paying attention to all aspects, working together between countries and knowing what is happening, because things are always changing,” he said.

The role requested by Welsch in Bogotá is the most important of those that the UN agency against drugs has in different parts of the world, an example of how strong it is in the coca leaf cultivation area, which is not only in Colombia, but also in Peru (more than 30%) and Bolivia (more than 4%) in 2021 compared to the previous year.

Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador are also the main transit countries for cocaine, the main destinations of which are the United States and Europe, although Welsch pointed out that the Southern market is also “big” and mentioned that 21.5 million people use the substance. in the world of 2021 “we see the highest level”.

Cocaine is not only a danger, but also synthetic drugs that can be made in laboratories around the world, which is why it is “so important to prevent it from becoming a problem in the country,” Welsch said.

UNODC’s work also includes fighting all crimes associated with illicit drugs such as human trafficking, money laundering, arms trafficking, mining and illegal logging.

In Argentina, next Monday, he imposed his first totally local policy, which seeks to strengthen the control of chemical precursors, the fight against illegal drugs (with an emphasis on synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances) and the criminal justice response to drug trafficking and corruption. partner

The project in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, the provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe, will begin with a three-year duration and a funding of 1.3 million dollars from the United States Department of State.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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