US, Colombia seeking new, ‘holistic’ counternarcotics strategy

The governments of the United States and Colombia are seeking a new bilateral counternarcotics strategy.

In a press statement, the so-called Counternarcotics Work Group said officials from both countries have been working on a “new bilateral strategy” to combat drug trafficking.

The new “holistic” approach

The bilateral team said that it would be announcing specifics of the “holistic approach” to combat drug trafficking between the world’s biggest producer of cocaine and the largest consumption market of the illicit drugs.

This holistic approach would include specific policies focusing on Colombia’s countryside where much of Colombia’s cocaine is produced and illegal armed groups are often in control.

Rough outlines of new counternarcotics strategy

  • Promote the sustainable presence of the State in the countryside
  • Accelerate “comprehensive rural development”
  • Guarantee the protection of human rights
  • Strengthen the rule of law

According to the bilateral work group, their joint counternarcotics strategy would initially be implemented in three priority municipalities, Tumaco, Caceres and Sardinita.

These municipalities are strategically important because of the cultivation of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine, and their access to Colombia’s main export hubs.

Other elements of the new policy

The increased investments in coca-growing regions would allow Colombia’s police to “sustainably eradicate coca” and prevent the replanting of coca.

The Counternarcotics Work Group additionally seeks to squeeze the import of chemicals used to produce cocaine and step up interceptions of drug shipments.

Additionally, the two governments seek to “reduce illicit cash transactions, prioritize the arrest and extradition of key drug traffickers and their aides, and strengthen the judicial system.”

According to the Counternarcotics Work Group, US authorities will be also be actively involved in the pending reform of Colombia’s police force, which would “strengthen the capacity of the police to counter drug trafficking and organized crime.”


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Challenges for the new strategy

The latest counternarcotics proposal would be “new” if Bogota and Washington DC will keep their word for once.

Colombia’s farmers have been promised rural investment and an end to state neglect for decades, but only few have actually seen this happen.

Coca farmers from the priority areas may be reluctant to take part in any counternarcotics experiment after farmers taking part in the previous one were literally left to starve.

Additionally, illegal armed groups will likely try to sabotage any counternarcotics policy that threatens their drug trafficking revenue.

Last but not least, government corruption continues to pose a threat to the implementation of any kind of policy.


The drug trafficking problem of Colombia’s Congress


The end of the “War on Drugs”

The government of US President Joe Biden has been developing a new counternarcotics strategy in Colombia in an attempt to end the “War on Drugs.”

According to US authorities, some 93,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2020, making last year the most fatal since late President Richard Nixon declared “war” on “public enemy number one” in 1971.

Americans dying of drugs

Colombia’s potential cocaine production reached an all-time high last year despite efforts by President Ivan Duque to ramp up the forced eradication of coca.

Last year’s record cocaine production was a new low for the South American country that became a major player in the global drug trade as a direct consequence of the War on Drugs.

Colombia’s potential cocaine production

The Nixon administration’s initial strategy to spray Mexican marijuana fields with chemicals that were believed to be harmful for American pot smokers boosted production in Colombia.

Within years, drug smugglers began using the marijuana routes to smuggle cocaine and heroin to the US.

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