|'Lost fight against drugs,' headlines Semana magazine.|
Colombia recently decided to stop using the broad-spectrum herbicide, justifying its decision using a World Health Organization assessment calling the chemical a 'probable carcinogen.' However, the WHO's evidence seems weak, and many analysts thot that the Colombian government's decision was rather a peace offering to the FARC guerrillas, who have long demanded an end to herbicide spraying.
But now, it turns out, the bulk of the spread of coca leaf plantations took place in areas where spraying is not allowed,
But aerial herbicide spraying, is, at best, just the slowest way to lose the war. Even with aggressive spraying in Colombia, along with manual erradication in Peru and alternative development in Bolivia, cocaine has gotten cheaper in many developed nations.
But Colombia's coca leaf crop may be booming for multiple reasons. Some suggest that campesino farmers are planting more coca in the hope of eventually receiving benefits from the government for eliminating it. Others speculate that economic troubles in rural areas, such as the collapse of pyramid schemes and the drop in the price of gold, might have pushed desperate farmers to plant coca. Or, the guerrillas might be pushing farmers to plant more coca in order to make money before any peace treaty ends their coca business.
But the biggest cause is probably much simpler: The price of coca leaf has leaped recently, making the crop lots more profitable. The price leap is particularly bad news for drug warriors, since it means either that narcotraffickers are either finding better ways to ship their product north, or that demand is rising in consumer nations, particularly as the U.S. and Europe.
There is one sure way to stop losing the War on Drug, which is to declare victory and legalize the industry.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours