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

AUC / 9 OCT 2013

Authorities in Colombia have captured the step-sister of notorious fallen paramilitary warlords the Castaños, who is a key backer of…

COLOMBIA / 23 APR 2012

Colombia's national police chief, General Oscar Naranjo, stated that the biggest challenge facing his successor is illegal mining, an increasingly…

COLOMBIA / 31 OCT 2018

A growth in cattle smuggling from Venezuela to Colombia with participation from criminal organizations could be the result of heavy-handed…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…