Bolivia (Sputnik) – Violent protests have erupted in the city of La Paz, Bolivia, for the second day, in response to legislation cutting back legal areas of coca cultivation, a cash crop used to make recreational cocaine. Anti-riot police were active for at…
Peru’s president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK), has proposed a new alternative development plan for the country’s main coca-growing region in the hope of reducing cultivation of the illicit crop. Is success possible in this historically impoverished area?
Just four years ago, Peru had the ignominy of being the world’s largest cultivator of coca, the raw ingredient used in the production of cocaine. However, cultivation levels have dropped sharply from a recent peak of 62,500 hectares in 2011 to 40,300 hectares in 2015, the lowest in 15 years, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) region – one of Peru’s most isolated and impoverished – has consistently been the highest coca-producing region since 2011 and is the only area where the Shining Path guerrilla group remain active. The region currently accounts for about 45 per cent of all coca cultivated in Peru.
Experiencing a rise in coca cultivation, the Colombian government has resumed the use of a potentially carcinogenic herbicide in its efforts to tackle the source of the cocaine trade, despite serious questions about the method’s efficacy.
Use of the herbicide glyphosate in coca eradication efforts was halted last year following publication of an International Agency for Research on Cancer report pointing to its potentially carcinogenic effects. Colombia had been utilizing glyphosate in aggressive aerial fumigation campaigns against coca — the raw ingredient for cocaine — since 1994.
However, a recent uptick in coca cultivation levels — and consequentially the amount of cocaine produced in the country — have apparently prompted the government to begin using glyphosate once more. The difference this time, though, is that it will be used solely in manual eradication, as confirmed by Defense Minister Luis Villegas who noted that authorities will spray on the ground in such a way so that it does not contaminate surrounding areas.