Coca farmers and a governor from the south of Colombia are saying that President Ivan Duque is failing to comply with a counter-narcotics strategy that is part of an ongoing peace process.
The farmers and the governor of the Nariño province want the government to reallocate budgets that would allow the national government to fulfill promises made by former President Juan Manuel Santos to replace coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, with legal crops.
Furthermore, the farmers want the government to abstain from fumigating or forcibly eradicating crops as vowed by Defense Minister Guillermo Botero and supported by the United States, the country providing the chemicals.
According to Nariño governor Camilo Romero, the national government has deceived both the coca growers and regional governments for refusing to carry out the crop substitution program in 26 of the 27 municipalities where farmers signed up, despite violent resistance from drug traffickers.
We sent 14 people to the hamlets and villages. We came to a census and the demonstration of 50,000 families who were willing to replace [their crops]. Then the government said that it could only assume the commitment in Tumaco. And now it is late in payments. This is a deception of the population of Nariño.
Nariño Governor Camilo Romero
Ramiro and the farmers organization are meeting with representatives of the United Nations and the European Union on Tuesday to talk about the reduction of coca cultivation in Nariño, the number one coca-growing region in Colombia.
The meeting is not attended by any representative of the national government or that of the United States, which has been waging an utterly ineffective “war on drugs” for decades, but refuses to cooperate with the UN-monitored substitution program that is widely seen as the most effective.
Our citizens have had neither the commitment nor the support of the state and when they do achieve it, they are deceived. This has a very strong symbolic weight: it is telling citizens that the state has no word and that they are better off with the illegal ones.