This Friday, June 25, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy issued its annual report on the cultivation of coca and the potential production of cocaine in three countries of the Andean region. The report determined a record increase in Colombia, close to 15% in the last year; and a maximum increase of 88,200 hectares in Peru. Bolivia marked a slight decrease, but also touched its all-time highs.
Colombia and Peru set records in illicit crops and potential production for cocaine. This is stated in a report released this Friday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, for its acronym in English).
Colombia: Coca cultivation and cocaine production reached a record 245,000 hectares and 1,010 metric tons, respectively. https://t.co/N6kXQDJjUS
– Diana Castrillón (@itsDCastrillon) June 25, 2021
In the case of Colombia, crops reached the highest levels in the last decade. They had an increase close to 15% in 2020, compared to the previous year.
During the last year, the country reached a maximum figure of 245,000 hectares of coca leaf plantations, after registering 212,000 hectares in 2019. It also went from 936 to 1,010 tons of potential cocaine production, according to the report.
“These trends show the need to increase holistic approaches that combine economic development, greater government presence and citizen security, interdiction and eradication in key rural areas to reduce cocaine production in a sustainable way and build peace in conflict-affected areas”, stated the ONDCP.
As possible causes of the increase, the US government pointed to several obstacles faced by the Colombian authorities that impacted their overall efforts to reduce coca cultivation, including increased violence in rural areas and the cessation of activities and restrictions imposed to treat to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Office of National Drug Control Policy highlighted “efforts to increase public safety, protection and economic opportunities.”
For its part, the Government of Iván Duque also reported a record of 130,000 hectares of manual eradication and about 580 metric tons of cocaine and cocaine base seized in 2020. Even so, the ONDCP assured that it is necessary to increase efforts to reduce it.
Contrariety of figures between the UN and the White House on coca production in Colombia
The report revealed this Friday by the office belonging to the White House differs from the report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Colombia (UNODC, for its figures in English), of the UN, issued a few weeks ago and which concluded that coca cultivation decreased. The two documents, however, agree that cocaine production increased.
Statement from the Government of Colombia on the figures for coca cultivation and cocaine production published today by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).https://t.co/Smy5ojRwYO
– Presidency Colombia 🇨🇴 (@infopresidencia) June 25, 2021
According to UNODC estimates, coca leaf plantations decreased for the third consecutive year, from 154,000 hectares in 2019 to 143,000 in 2020.
In other words, there is a difference of more than 100,000 hectares between the UN report and that of the White House.
Faced with this situation, President Duque responded that a team of high-level officials from both the United States Government and Colombia will review the figures in the coming days, also focused on strengthening the methodology for measuring illicit crops.
“We now have an opportunity to redouble our efforts towards our common goal of ending this destructive illicit economy. Colombia and the United States recognize that complex problems such as drug trafficking require long-term solutions and a comprehensive policy response, ”the government stated.
The Colombian president also highlighted the need to focus on the eradication of the drug problem not only from producing countries, but also in nations where consumption increases, such as the United States.
“Co-responsibility implies not only that the effort of eradication and seizure be made by our countries, but that there they manage to adopt better public policies to put an end to this exponential growth in consumption, which became seriously notorious in 2020”, Duque stated.
Precisely on Thursday, June 24, in its annual report on drugs, the UN warned that the pandemic has triggered the consumption of narcotics and that, in the midst of the health crisis, the illegal market has quickly found ways to commercialize them through the internet. and the use of cryptocurrencies.
According to this report, around 275 million people used drugs in 2020 globally, representing an increase of 22% compared to 2010. Although the agency explains that the rise is partly due to the growth of the world population, it is also It responds to access to a greater variety of substances and to the growing perception among young people that some of them, such as cannabis, are not dangerous.
Peru reaches historical record of 88,200 hectares of coca in the last year
According to the White House report, the Peruvian territory also set a historical record in coca cultivation in 2020, with an area of 88,200 hectares.
This is a doubling in less than five years, since in 2016 the country reached 44,000 hectares of these illicit plantations.
The ONDCP explains that Peru, the health crisis has been largely an obstacle to the efforts of the Peruvian government to eradicate the problem. And this is one of the countries hardest hit by Covid-19, to the point that the death toll has been presented there per capita highest in the world by the virus.
“The pandemic also presented significant obstacles to the Peruvian government’s efforts to provide alternative livelihoods for ex-coca growers, build transportation infrastructure in underdeveloped areas, and provide security for rural Peruvians,” the document stated.
In addition, the White House office stressed that Peru had to pause for months in its coca eradication efforts in the last year.
Bolivia, “close to record levels” in coca leaf crops
With regard to Bolivia, the Office of National Drug Control Policy assured that in 2020 there was a slight decrease in coca leaf crops, of around 7% compared to 2019. However, “close to record levels.”
Faced with the potential production of cocaine, the ONDCP found that it remained stable at 312 tons.
Against this background, the US government stressed that President Joe Biden has raised addressing addiction and overdose as public health priorities in his country, in his program of priorities for the first year of his administration.
“The Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes expanding access to prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan was a foretaste of these priorities, investing nearly $ 4 billion in supports for behavioral health and substance use disorder, ”stressed the ONDCP.
In this regard, he recalled the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 that requires $ 10.7 billion to support research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services, with specific investments to meet the needs of populations most at risk for overdoses and substance use disorders.
With AP and local media