HomeNewsBriefColombia Sends Mixed Messages on 2018 Coca Eradication Goal
BRIEF

Colombia Sends Mixed Messages on 2018 Coca Eradication Goal

COCA / 18 DEC 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

The government of Colombia has issued seemingly contradictory statements regarding the amount of coca it aims to forcibly eradicate next year, while evidence from the eradication campaign this year has raised questions about the feasibility of this strategy.

President Juan Manuel Santos said on December 14 that the government plans to forcibly eradicate 65,000 hectares of coca in 2018, a more than 20 percent increase from the 2017 goal.

The announcement came shortly after Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that authorities had surpassed their goal of forcibly eradicating 50,000 hectares of coca crops this year, according to a government press release.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

However, the government statements are somewhat unclear. According to Villegas, 63,000 hectares will be eradicated in 2018 -- 23,000 through voluntary crop substitution and 40,000 forcibly. On the other hand, Santos indicated that 65,000 hectares will be eradicated forcibly in 2018.

InSight Crime Analysis

The apparent contradiction between the statements by Santos and Villegas reflects the Colombian government's struggle to balance forcible eradication with voluntary crop substitution programs.

Colombia outlined plans at the beginning of 2017 to eradicate 100,000 hectares of coca crops by the end of the year -- 50,000 hectares through forced eradication and 50,000 hectares through voluntary coca crop substitution.

However, an October report from the Ideas for Peace Foundation (Fundación Ideas Para la Paz – FIP) found that the government had achieved just 5 percent of its coca crop substitution goal through September 30, projecting that only 20 percent of that goal would be achieved by year’s end.

Moreover, Colombian military sources told InSight Crime that the forced eradication figures from this year may have been inflated to make the efforts seem more successful than they actually were.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Coca

The Colombian government’s focus on praising their forced eradication successes likely stems from increased pressure by the United States, which threatened to designate the country not compliant in anti-drug efforts in September of this year amid record cocaine production.

Adam Isacson, a senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), told InSight Crime that the focus on forced eradication "is really owed to US pressure.”

"Colombia feels the need to keep [the] Americans happy,” Isacson said. “It absolutely has a lot to do with the pressure coming from the United States, which was strong in the Obama administration as well.”

The emphasis on forced eradication has antagonized communities that depend on drug production for their livelihood. In October, for example, an incident involving farmers protesting against the government’s forced eradication of coca crops in the southwest port city of Tumaco resulted in the deaths of at least nine civilians.

Although forcible eradication campaigns have had limited long-term success in containing drug crop cultivation, they are easier to implement than voluntary substitution programs, which face substantial political and logistical obstacles.

Indeed, Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged in his December 14 address that the government had failed to meet all of its goals, explaining that the coca crop substitution process simply “does not happen overnight,” though progress is being made.

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

COLOMBIA / 8 JUL 2021

Los Comandos de la Frontera, or the Border Command, formerly known as La Mafia, is a group made up of…

COLOMBIA / 27 OCT 2016

Peace talks between the government of Colombia and the country's second-largest guerrilla group have been delayed again after the rebels…

COLOMBIA / 4 OCT 2012

Colombia's agriculture minister stated that the FARC are responsible for 38 percent of displacements pertaining to stolen land, something…

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…