Bogotá, 11 Sept (EFE).- Colombian Justice Minister Néstor Osuna stressed during the presentation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) 2022 Annual Report that despite the registration of a new maximum in the number of coca hectares, the trend is slowing down.
According to the report, 230,000 hectares were reported, setting a new record for the second year. After 204,000 hectares were reported in 2021.
Coca cultivation in Colombia increased by 13% in 2022, compared to a 41% increase the previous year.
“The curve is flattening,” said Osuna, who was “concerned” about the figures but assured that this trend indicates that the new government’s policies are working.
Leonardo Correa, coordinator of the UNODC’s Integrated System for Monitoring Illicit Crops (SIMCI), also pointed out in his presentation that the increase in coca cultivation is concentrated in the southern department of Putumayo, which borders Peru and Ecuador.
“If you look at Colombia without Putumayo, you would see an increase of 3%, which is a stable trend,” said Correa, who also pointed out that 14% of coca-growing areas produce 44% of cocaine.
“This means that these areas not only have more hectares but are also more productive,” he pointed out.
INCREASE IN COCAINE PRODUCTION
The UNDOC expert alluded that “while it is true that there has been a reduction in the rate of coca replanting, there has also been a significant increase in the potential production of cocaine because the last year’s crops are now productive.”
This is reflected in a 24% increase in potential cocaine hydrochloride production, according to the report.
Areas where base paste and cocaine are grown and produced are concentrated in the west, bordering Venezuela, and in the south, bordering Ecuador and Peru.
“Illegal groups prefer to generate money rather than maintain territorial control. This is one of the reasons why coca cultivation and trafficking are concentrated in strategic areas, such as the borders. “said Candice Welsch, UNODC’s Regional Director for the Andean Region and Southern Cone.
According to the report, 106.7 tons of cocaine paste were seized last year, a 20 percent increase from 2021. This year, the government aims to seize 843 tons, almost 50% of last year’s production.
However, cocaine seizures have decreased by 1.5% compared to last year. According to the Minister of Justice, this is due to a decrease in cocaine shipments and an increase in the production of cocaine from base paste in the countries of arrival to avoid losses.
The report comes days after Colombia unveiled its new national drug policy, which aims to stop persecuting farmers, offer solutions to transition to a legal economy, and focus on prosecuting large criminal organizations.
On Saturday, during the Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Drugs, Colombian President Gustavo Petro addressed the US, the EU, and the UN directly: “We are afraid to say that you, who have the majority of consumers of these drugs, are wrong,” he said bluntly.
The UNODC representative distanced herself from the criticism, saying that regional talks were necessary because the problem was global.
“This is a very opportune moment to think about new strategies,” she expressed, stressing that they “see with optimism that the drug policy of the Colombian government, which was socialized two days ago, has a much more participatory construction, which brings the perspectives of the government and the community in this matter.EFE.