Q24N (Infobae) The United States affirmed that it is “very concerned” about the “high levels” of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia, and assured that it will continue to cooperate with the South American country to combat drug trafficking.
This was expressed by a State Department spokesman consulted by the EFE news agency about the United Nations report that revealed on Thursday that coca crops in Colombia grew by 43% in 2021.
“The United States remains very concerned about the high levels of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia. We will continue to cooperate closely with Colombia to respond to the great threat posed by drug trafficking,” said the source.
The spokesman recalled that the plan of Washington and Bogotá is to “implement a comprehensive approach” in drug policy that addresses the reduction of drug production and demand, the protection of the environment, and development and justice for the Colombian countryside.
Coca crops in Colombia grew by 43% in 2021, the year in which 204,000 hectares were registered, while in 2020 that figure was 143,000 hectares, according to the annual report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented on Thursday.
The report indicates that coca crops in Colombia continue to be located in “the same territories with conditions of vulnerability” and that 62% of the total are concentrated in three departments: Nariño (border with Ecuador), Norte de Santander (border with Venezuela) and Putumayo (border with Peru and Ecuador).
During his visit to Colombia two weeks ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured that his country firmly supports the anti-drug policy proposed by the new Colombian president, the leftist Gustavo Petro.
In a harsh speech at the UN General Assembly, Petro lashed out at Washington’s decades-long military war on drugs that he said has damaged the Colombian jungle.
The concern of the UN
Last Thursday, the report of the United Nations Integrated Illicit Crop Monitoring System was presented, detailing worrying figures on cocaine production in Colombia, which, in fact, reached an all-time high and set off alarms, not only at the UN but also in the Colombian Government.
According to the document, in 2021 the area planted with coca plants grew by 43% and the potential for cocaine production increased by 14%, reflecting figures never seen before on illicit crops in the country. Under this scenario, in Colombia, there are no longer 143,000 hectares but 204,000. In addition, it indicates that the potential production of fresh coca leaf can exceed one million tons.
In this sense, cocaine seizures increased: from 505,683 kilos in 2020, to 669,340 in 2021 and 86.5% of the crops have been in the same places for 10 years. On the other hand, this report draws attention, which was published four months later due to the change of director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime —UNODC— for the Southern Cone and the Andean Region, and also due to the transition of government from August 7 this year.
As short-term factors —according to the document— associated with the dynamics of coca cultivation from 2020 to 2021 are the positioning of new criminal groups, the reduction of intervention and the deterioration of socioeconomic conditions due to the pandemic. Now, regarding the concentration of crops, these are Nariño, Norte de Santander and Putumayo, departments that house 62% of the total.
(With information from EFE)