Peruvian authorities have eradicated 12,410 hectares of illegal coca crops so far in 2013, putting the country on track to meet its goal of 22,000 hectares by the end of the year, part of wider government efforts to contain growing drug production.
Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said that through the country's main coca eradication program CORAH (so-named for its Spanish acronym), authorities had eradicated 56 percent of the government's 2013 goal of 22,000 hectares. Efforts have so far been concentrated in the central provinces of Huanuco, Pasco and Junin, reported La Republica. The minister said that 2013 eradication efforts had prevented the production of over 95 tons of cocaine, according to EFE.
Authorities eradicated 14,171 hectares of coca crops in 2012, meaning that figures halfway through 2013 represented 87 percent of the total hectares eradicated in 2012.
Pedraza made his remarks during a ceremony in which police burned 3.15 tons of drugs seized since June, over half of which consisted of cocaine paste. Officials have destroyed 15 tons of drugs this year.
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After the US reported in 2011 that Peru had surpassed Colombia to become the world's biggest cocaine producer, President Ollanta Humala approved a new hard-line coca eradication strategy. In January of this year, the Peruvian government announced that it would more than double its eradication goals for 2013. Concern over Peru's role in the cocaine trade was also reflected in the granting of $41 million by the European Union to this Andean nation for anti-drug efforts earlier this year .
In order to achieve eradication goals, the government has taken a tough stance against coca growers, refusing calls for a "truce" in February and rejecting requests for immediate compensation after eradication. Seven people were injured in clashes between police and coca growers in the Oxapampa province in May. President Ollanta Humala's current stance on coca production represents a turnaround from promises he made to coca growers during his presidential campaign.
Though coca represents an important cultural tradition for some Peruvians, the US estimated in 2011 that 93 percent of coca grown in Peru was used for the production of cocaine.