Colombian government, spurred on by President Juan Manuel Santos, will aim to rid all of the country’s national parks from illicit crops by the end of 2016.
Santos plans to clean up all of Colombia’s 16 national parks, in seven of which communities are receiving some sort of renumeration to continue sowing coca.
Coca remains a lucrative business in Colombia’s rural communities, along the Venezuelan and Ecuadorean border regions in particular. In many cases, landowners have been forcibly removed by guerrilla or paramilitary groups, claiming fertile soil to establish large-scale coca plantations.
The government aims to fully eradicate illegal crops in at least 94 of Colombia’s 230 municipalities which have been hit by a marked boom in coca production.
“The government can’t remain passive,” Post Conflict minister Rafael Pardo commented.
On the up
The Macarena park, in Colombia’s Meta department, is believed to house the country’s largest coca crop of around 2,500 hectares. Parts of the Guaviare, Nariño and Norte de Santander have also seen an increase in coca cultivation, due to a marked FARC presence.
According to La Patilla, Defense minister Luis Carlos Villegas believes that the armed group are mistaken in believing that coca can be used as a “bartering tool for new social programmes within the agriculture sector, for the substitution and improvement of infrastructure.”
“The FARC have been an obstacle for eradication policies as well as for intervention and substitution, they now need to co-operate and reduce their crops,” the minister added.
Manuel eradication has increased across Colombia by 25 percent during 2016.
According to a recent report by the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (JIFE in Spanish) Colombia continues to top global coca production levels, with some 69,000 of the crop grown during 2015.
Colombia’s Defense Ministry claims to have seized 252 tons of cocaine during 2015, that’s 71 percent more than during the previous year. A total of 40 tons have been seized to date during 2016.