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With FARC's blessing, Colombia changes strategy to eradicate illicit crops

Colombia will give priority to manual eradication and voluntary replacement of coca crops in actions with communities to combat drugs, as announced on Tuesday () the new director of the Colombian police, Major General Henry Sanabria Cely.

“What we are applying is voluntary eradication in certain places where we had a field meeting of certain members of the institution and other state entities to motivate voluntary eradication and replacement,” Sanabria said in an interview with the newspaper El Tiempo.

The decision is in line with the promise of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who assured that the his administration will seek to end forced eradication, in which peasants are the most affected because they are allegedly not included in a crop replacement plan.

The military officer emphasized that the decision taken aims to ensure the least damage. possible to people who “owe the least in drug trafficking”.

“The chain starts cial of sowing, cultivation and harvesting is not really what we have affected over the years, but we are always on the lookout for the big mafias that are in charge of motivating people to commit this crime”, commented the officer.

For the Comunes political party, formerly known as FARC, the government’s decision is a result of the peace agreement signed in 2016 by the Colombian government and the demobilized guerrilla.

“This is an achievement of the peace agreement, and in the same way the replacement and treatment plan with a focus on public health for people addicted to illicit drugs must be resumed”, the party said on social networks.

No to glyphosate

On the other hand, Sanabria stated in the interview that the only directive existing so far in the Anti-Narcotics Directorate is that a request was sent to the National Environmental Licenses (ANLA) to not continue the “environmental license that had been requested for the use of the same (glyf osato), awaiting the conclusions of the council of ministers”.

The use of the herbicide glyphosate to spray coca crops was a public policy that had been promoted by the previous government, chaired by Iván Duque.

The new director of police added that, to replace forced eradication, proposals will be developed in accordance with the laws “to guarantee various legal interests that orbit around drug trafficking”.

“However, the pursuit of illegal organizations dedicated to this criminal business will continue in order to capture the people we identify as involved in drug trafficking”, he analyzed.

The Major- The general also said he did not know whether Petro’s government had informed the United States of the decision to stop eradicating coca crops with the presence of security forces, in reference to the fact that it is their main ally in the fight against drug trafficking. drugs, a transnational crime.

Number s

The previous government stated earlier this year that the objective for 2022 was to manually eradicate 100 thousand hectares of coca, a method that a year ago led to the eradication of 103.100 hectares of illegal cultivation.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said in July that Colombia produced 972 tons of cocaine last year, 2.2% less than 994 tons calculated in 2020, and recorded 234 thousand hectares under cultivation, 4.5% below 972.000 hectares from the previous year.

The regions with the most illegal crops are Catatumbo, on the border with Venezuela; the departments of Cauca and Nariño, the Putumayo border with Ecuador, and Antioquia, especially in cities like Anorí, Tarazá and Valdivia.

The location of illicit crops coincides with the territories where most of the social and indigenous leaders were murdered and with the presence of illegal armed groups, such as dissidents from the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Gulf Clan.

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