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Colombian cocaine at an all-time high

by Alexa Liautaud
Jul 14 2017, 3:15pm

Cocaine in Colombia is at an all-time high.

More cocaine was produced there in 2016 than in any year before, despite billions of dollars from the United States to help curb the trade, new figures from the United Nations showed Friday.

In 2016, coca cultivation in the South American country surged 52 percent, spanning 146,000 hectares, compared with 96,000 in 2015. The 2016 crops produced an estimated 866 metric tons of cocaine, an increase of 35 percent over 2015.

The results are “disappointing,” the U.N. said in its press release detailing the latest figures, which makes sense, considering that the United States spent over $10 billion trying to help counter narcotic efforts in Colombia over the last 17 years.

The hope was to bolster Colombian security forces in combating illicit drug cartels.

Colombia’s chief prosecutor, Néstor Humberto Martinez, declared in March: “We cannot allow drug trafficking to coexist with peace and reconciliation,” according to the Associated Press.

He got the reconciliation — a peace deal with the FARC guerrilla insurgency was reached just last month — but farmers have carried on producing cocaine, seemingly undeterred.

The boom in production in Colombia has also directly influenced cocaine use worldwide, including in the United States and Europe, according to the 2017 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“Following a long-term decline, coca bush cultivation increased by 30 percent during the period 2013-2015, mainly as a result of increased cultivation in Colombia,” the report concluded. “Cocaine use appears to be increasing in the two largest markets, North America and Europe.”

In a joint press conference in May, President Trump pushed for Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to increase eradication efforts.

“Recently, we have seen an alarmed — and I mean really a very highly alarmed and alarming trend,” Trump said. “Last year, Colombia coca cultivation and cocaine production reached a record high, which, hopefully, will be remedied very quickly by the president. We must confront this dangerous threat to our societies together.”