Monday, September 25, 2023

Record coca plants after a year of drug policy limbo

The remaining debt

Carlos Chapuel is a coca farmer from the municipality of San Miguel in Putumayo, on the southern border of Colombia. He is part of Coccam, the National Coordinator of Coca Poppy and Marijuana Growers.

“San Miguel is one of the towns that is the center of the collection of coca leaves, different routes that go to Esmeraldas in Ecuador and from there to the Pacific. This is the exit point of the merchandise,” he explained.

In his opinion, the pandemic crisis is the reason that teachers, entrepreneurs and cheap labor of Venezuelan citizens dedicate themselves to the coca business, which is reflected in the continuous increase in the number of hectares planted in his department.

Chapuel believes that until now he has not felt the change in the drug policy that the Petro government repeated in its speeches. “All they say is that the small producer will be different from those who have more than 3.8 hectares,” said Chapuel, who has about 1.5 hectares. “The problem is that there is no alternative, with an institutional structure, able to dedicate themselves to the cultivation of cocoa, panela, bananas, lemons,” he added.

But beyond the fact that they were able to “give an outlet” to other licit crops, Chapuel included in the equation the agrarian reform discussed by the Petro government. “This is a debt that is historic: natives and farmers who do not have their own land. But a law must be pushed that, in addition to delivering the land, gives an incentive to use it” and talks about energy, roads and guarantees to sell their products so that they stop growing coca.

Eduardo Díaz Uribe, who is director of the Pnis Illicit Crop Substitution Program of the government of Santos, has a similar view from Bogotá. “The most important aspect of eliminating illegal crops and informality in the countryside is for farmers to have their own land, to live there. “They cannot continue to live in poverty and depend on economies such as coca planting or illegal mining,” he said.

According to his reading, the disruption during the government of Iván Duque in the crop substitution program gave control to the areas where the coca crops are now concentrated by the armed groups.

“What we need to do is unite the farmers to work with them in the replacement” and he said that in one year of the Santos administration, the replacement of 45 thousand hectares was achieved, 6 thousand of which in public intervention. force. “But Duque came in and came with the pretense of Trump re-fumigating and forced elimination and

“We surrendered the territory to the thug leaders of the drug-trafficking business,” he said.

Now in Petro, the problem is that the government took 13 months to publish its drug policy, which aims to give a “stick” to the big drug traffickers and a “carrot” to the coca growers, a ideas that have not been implemented, according to in the balance of Díaz Uribe.

“Now that the planets are aligned, for example in the United States, the killing is close to zero. There is a good discourse that the war has failed, but making speeches is too easy, what can be done now is the lack of management ,” he said.

And in that sense, he suggests that false expectations may have been created with the idea that the Minister of Justice, Néstor Osuna, is trying to promote, with legal uses of coca leaves planted in the country. According to his calculations, for a legal industry like tea, no more than 10 thousand hectares are needed, compared to the 230 thousand that exist today.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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