Cocaine production in Colombia went up 8% in 2019 and reached an all-time high, according to the US government.
The estimated increase from 879 to 951 tons is a major punch in the gut for President Ivan Duque and his Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who have gone to great lengths to please US President Donald Trump.
The adverse effects of their forced eradication program is also a disappointment for US officials, who have been promoting the notoriously ineffective strategy.
Counter-narcotics experts, the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), governors and the US Government Accountability Office have alerted both Washington DC and Bogota about the ineffectiveness of forced eradication.
Both Duque and Trump, however, have refused to support crop substitution programs and rural development broadly considered effective.
In an unannounced meeting earlier this week, Trump told Duque “you’re going to have to spray” herbicides, apparently unaware this is impossible.
Colombia’s constitutional court reminded Duque last week he is only allowed to resume the aerial fumigation of coca if he implements the crop substitution program so far shunned.
Trujillo said last month that he and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper had agreed to step up forced eradication to a record 130,000 hectares this year, more than half of the hectares registered by the US.
In the history of drug trafficking, Colombia’s authorities have never been able to eradicate more than 97,000 hectares per year.
How accurate the numbers of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy are as they were contradicted by the agency’s own director, Jim Carrol, on Thursday.
When President Duque took office in 2018, he was faced with record levels of coca cultivation and cocaine production. With the support of the United States and our close collaboration during his 18 months in office, his policies have resulted in a stabilization of both.
ONDCP Director Jim Carroll
The global authority on coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia, the UNODC, will present its annual report later this year.