Record cocaine production and consumption: report pales

In Colombia, coca cultivation has reached record levels, with production growing by 43% compared to 2020, while consumption in the United States, the world’s number one market, has grown, as have deliveries to Europe. This was reported by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNUDC), which gives the country the title of the world’s largest producer ahead of Peru and Bolivia. In Colombia, the UN agency surveyed 204,000 hectares of coca leaf plantations in 2021, specifying that the maximum production areas are the departments of Narino and Putumayo, on the border with Ecuador, with a total of 89,266 hectares. In second place is the Norte de Santander region, close to Venezuela, with 42,576 hectares. An increase in cultivation goes hand in hand with the production and sale of cocaine, mainly to the United States, the world’s largest consumer. A growing trend also for Europe, recorded by the UN from 2014, which ‘absorbed’ 1,400 tonnes against 1,010 in the previous year.

For the United Nations agency, the growing coca cultivation and cocaine production are symptomatic of “territorial vulnerability” and the presence of armed actors who exploit this trade, in addition to being a direct consequence of the increase in world demand. Indeed, for more than half a century Colombia has been plagued by internal conflict largely fueled by the lucrative cocaine trade and trafficking, which make the country one of the most violent nations in the world. In office for two months, left-wing president Gustavo Petro intends to change the strategy in the fight against cocaine trafficking, which he himself described as “unsuccessful”, opting for a “strong policy to prevent consumption” in developed and rich.

In the wake of the UN report, the Minister of Justice, Nestor Osuna, stressed that the figures that emerged represent “technical evidence, the starting point of the need to build a new drug policy”. Excluding the legalization of cocaine, the Pedro government is in favor of “global regulation of the trade and trafficking” of drugs. In the same vein, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who, during a recent visit to Bogot√°, said he was “in agreement with Petro on a more global approach”. The leftist Colombian president has promised rural reform to support food production and economic benefits for those who abandon illicit crops, as well as bring traffickers to justice. To achieve the goal of “total peace”, the leftist president has re-launched negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and intends to confront dissidents from the former FARC who reject the 2016 peace accords. however, the better with rising inflation and unemployment, as well as a historic devaluation of the national currency against the dollar. According to the latest polls, just two months after taking office, Petro lost 10 points in popularity, to 46% in consensus, blaming the United States for the ongoing crisis, a consequence of its economic policy.

Source: IL Tempo