Peruvian President Alan Garcia slams a United Nations (UN) report which claims Peru’s coca leaf production tops Colombia’s, and says that his nation “suffers the effects of Plan Colombia.”
“It is absolutely inaccurate that Peru occupies first place [in coca leaf production], but it is true that we have felt the effect of Plan Colombia on Peru,” Garcia commented during a press conference.
“Over six or seven years the U.S. have invested $5 billion in Colombia to eradicate drug trafficking and attack cocaine cultivation. That’s why some production sectors of coca leaf production have been established in [the border region of] Putumayo, taking advantage of the jungle and so, due to this effect, if a lot of money is squeezed into Colombia, evidently there will be a displacement” into Peru, Garcia continued.
Garcia said that UN reports were contradictory, with different figures presented in the Lima, Bogota and Vienna UN headquarters and referred to calculations by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Peru director Humberto Chirinos.
According to the official report released on Tuesday which named Peru as the new king of coca, Colombia produced 103,000 tons of coca leaf in 2009, and Peru produced 119,000 tons.
Chirinos argued on Wednesday that Colombia measures the amount of coca leaves produced after they are dried in microwaves, while Peru measures leaves dried in the sun, and if Colombia had been using Peru’s system for measuring the amount of coca leaf produced, it would have come out on top.
According to Chirinos, if Colombian coca leaves had been sun-dried, than they would have weighed 149,000 tons, while Peru’s official statistic for its sun-dried coca leafs is only 128,000 tons, leaving Colombia as the world leader in coca production.
The U.N. official also admitted that quantifying the amount of coca produced is highly technical and open to interpretation, and as a result is not the most objective way to compare countries’ coca production. Instead, he suggested, comparing the amount of land dedicated to the cultivation of coca is the best way to compare countries.
If measured by this metric, Colombia would still retain the “king of coca” title, with 68,000 hectares of land used for cultivation in 2009 compared to Peru’s 59,000.