Cocaine from Colombia accounts for 92% of what is seized on the streets of the United States, according a report by the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Entitled ‘‘Colombian Cocaine Production Expansion Contributes to Rise in Supply in the United States’’, the DEA report indicated that an additional 2% came from Peru with the remaining 6% from other nations.
The report expressed concern about rising coca production in the South American country, reaching its highest level ever last year.
“Colombian coca cultivation and cocaine production in 2016 reached the highest levels in history,” said the report, quoting a figure of 188,000 hectares.
The DEA identifies the elimination of aerial spraying, which was discontinued due to health concerns as a crucial factor in the continued expansion of coca production in Colombia.
“The recent spike in coca cultivation has been driven by several factors, including a decrease in both aerial eradication, which was particularly significant from 2013 to the program’s discontinuation in October 2015, and manual eradication,” reported the DEA.
The USA has been a fervent advocate of the use of fumigation in Colombia, in spite of the numerous medical studies, including the one of the World Health Organization, that revealed the devastating effects this could have on people’s health.
Thousands of rural Colombian farmers have suffered from side effects of this eradication method since Colombia began the aerial fumigation of coca crops during the mid-1990s with financial support from the United States.
In addition to the issue of aerial spraying, the DEA report considers some elements of the peace deal signed between the Marxist-inspired FARC guerrillas and Colombia’s government as another contributory factor in rising cocaine production.
In the context of the peace process, both sides agreed upon renouncing the use of aerial fumigation and prioritizing human rights and the environment.
Illicit drugs represented one of the six major points negotiated at the table that brought Colombia’s government and its largest rebel group together to work on the historical peace treaty.
The treaty concluded with the best programs and strategies conceived by both parties, which rested on integral development plans with participation of the communities in the design, execution and evaluation of the programs of substitution and environmental recovery of the areas affected by illicit crops.
The DEA report, however, found that the peace negotiations ‘’have at times exacerbated the problem of illicit coca cultivation in Colombia’’ and that ‘’regardless of the long-term efficacy of this plan, full implementation will take many years.”
While the consumption rising in the USA coincides with the production rising in Colombia, the report, however, fails to show how the causal relationship between the two occurs.
A USA State Department report earlier this year adopted the same attitude, placing the onus for the country’s drug problem on the Colombian production while overlooking the importance of providing basic public services and addressing the issue form its roots.
According to the DEA report, 2015 marks the year with the highest drug-poisoning deaths in the USA since 2007.
While this figure sheds light on the gravity of the situation of the world’s highest cocaine consumer, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the report goes further making a direct link between these tragic numbers and Colombian production.
‘’Analysis shows a strong relationship between cocaine drug poisoning deaths and Colombian production, which suggest that cocaine deaths the United States are likely to reach high levels by 2017,’’ reads the DEA report.
The allegation, yet again, has no reasonable grounds to justify the how Colombia’s production of cocaine claims the thousands of lives in the USA.
‘’As production and other international indicators increase, the United States will very likely see continued increases in cocaine-related deaths, new initiates, seizures and positive workplace drug tests,” said the report.
After decades of trying to combat drug trafficking, Colombian traffickers and their Mexican associates are shipping more cocaine to consumption markets in North America, Europe and South America than ever before.
As part of a peace deal with demobilizing FARC guerrillas, the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos has promised to prioritize crop substitution over eradication, a strategy proven successful in Peru, the world’s second largest producer of cocaine.