Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Beating Our Heads Against a Wall

Coca plants being eradicated in Colombia, near the Ecuadorian border.
For years, Colombia was the model anti-drug fighter for the Washington D.C. conservatives, thanks to military tactics, aggressive erradication and U.S.-supported interdiction programs. Meanwhile, left-wing governments in Bolivia and Ecuador expelled U.S. anti-drug personnel.

The U.S. also sent more than 10 billion dollars  in Plan Colombia aid to battle the guerrillas and erradicate Colombia's drug crops.

Coca leaf acreage has shot up, perhaps to record levels,
during the last several years. (Graphic: Semana magazine)
The result? Today, Colombia's cocaine production has more than doubled over the last several years and more than 90% of cocaine sold on U.S. streets comes from Colombia.

Some analysts argue that the cocaine boom has resulted from a drop in gold prices, which pushed unemployed miners into the drug business, or that as the FARC guerrillas demobilize they have urged campesinos to plant coca leaf in order to obtain a future compensation for erradicating their own crops, or that the suspension of aerial herbicide spraying a few years ago sparked a drug-planting boom.

Any and all of those might play a role, but there will always be incremental factors affecting the drug
92% of cocaine sold in the U.S. comes from Colombia,
according to the DEA, and the rest comes
from Peru and Bolivia. 
economy. And it's interesting that until recently U.S. officials argued that the guerrillas' demobilization would deal a blow against the drug economy. Now suddenly it's the reverse.

In fact, the sustained increase in coca leaf cultivation over the past several years can only be explained one way: More demand has generated more supply. Campesino farmers aren't stupid, and they're only planting coca leaf because they're confident they'll be paid for it.

For way too long, the U.S. has wasted tax money on a futile anti-drug campaign which has only ensured that violent gangs, guerrillas and paramilitaries get rich off of the drug trade.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Isn't it time to try a new tactic, such as drug decriminalization?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

Stuart Oswald said...

It's the US that brought the FARC to the negotiating table. It's Santos laying off of the coca trade that kept the FARC sweet whilst at the table. BTW the people are against the deal for obvious reasons. Santos tainted the whole process and now for every more will be remembered for going against democracy and letting off some vile criminals to skip justice.