HomeNewsBriefCan Colombia Meet Its Huge 2017 Coca Eradication Goal?
BRIEF

Can Colombia Meet Its Huge 2017 Coca Eradication Goal?

COCA / 9 JAN 2017 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Colombia has outlined plans to mitigate surging coca cultivations -- one of the biggest threats to lasting peace in the country -- as the FARC guerrillas' demobilization process moves slowly forward.

The Colombian government will aim to eradicate 100,000 hectares of the cocaine-producing plant this year despite only uprooting 17,593 hectares in 2016, according to El Tiempo. (See InSight Crime's graphic below)

17-01-09-colombia

The ambitious goal amounts to more than the 96,000 hectares of coca cultivations believed to be present in Colombia in 2015, based on figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Sources consulted by El Tiempo predict that cultivations may have risen to 130,000 hectares in 2016, a figure unseen since a peak of 145,000 hectares in 2001, according to UNODC estimates.

Eradication efforts will be split evenly between the voluntary substitution of coca crops for legal alternatives, and forced eradication by state forces. To carry out the job, the army will reportedly have specialized manual eradication brigades totaling 20,000 troops.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Coca

These developments come only weeks after a milestone for the peace process unfolding with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), who control the lion's share of the country's coca crops.

On December 28, Colombia's congress approved an Amnesty Law outlined in an agreement signed by the rebel army and the Colombian government. This law is a key requirement in providing judicial guarantees for FARC members who hand over their weapons, but it has been strongly criticized by opposition politicians. When implemented, it will grant pardons for thousands of guerrillas not considered responsible for crimes against humanity, and possible freedom for imprisoned rebels.

There have been some hiccups since the demobilization phase began at the start of December 2016, including delays in readying in the zones where guerrilla fighters will temporarily gather to surrender their weapons and prepare for reintegration into society. Nonetheless, FARC troops are slowly moving to their designated areas.

InSight Crime Analysis

These ongoing developments show that the wheels are finally in motion for Colombia's "post-conflict" plans, yet they also draw attention to the biggest obstacles ahead.

The cocaine trade is a huge source of income for dissident FARC members as well as other criminal organizations that are already moving into areas left behind by the demobilizing rebels. And despite Colombia's surge in coca cultivations, eradication fell sharply last year. This is mainly due to the government's controversial decision in 2015 to ban the aerial fumigation of coca crops, a method that represented over 80 percent of total eradication the previous year.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace

Many have opposed this change, including the United States government. It is possible that Colombian officials had their North American allies in mind when setting the 2017 eradication goal; US congressional representatives recently suggested withholding "post-conflict" aid to the country unless significant changes are made to the peace deal. Moreover, US Vice President Joe Biden advised Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in December 2016 to focus on the fight against drug trafficking in order to maintain good ties with incoming US President Donald Trump.

While it will be difficult for Colombia to achieve its eradication goal, it may have more resources to do so, as former FARC members convicted of grave crimes will be expected to participate in crop substitution efforts.

Another significant challenge will be to provide viable economic alternatives for coca growing communities to secure long-term change. However, there are doubts about the government's capacity to fill the state void in these areas in the imminent future.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL KOKI / 19 OCT 2020

The Venezuelan government and security forces have spent the last few months building up a criminal known as Santanita and…

COLOMBIA / 21 JUL 2016

The violence plagued city of Palmira saw 46 percent fewer homicides in the first six months of 2016 than in…

AUC / 28 AUG 2014

Thirty-two public figures, including former and current politicians, have been arrested in Colombia's northwestern Uraba region for ties to paramilitaries,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…