German A. Ospina

Colombia's Decision to End Aerial Coca Eradication: What's Next?

After two decades of coca crop-dusting as part of a counter-narcotics campaign, Colombia has decided to end its aerial coca eradication program. In a contentious decision, the Colombian government, more specifically, the National Narcotics Council, voted 7 to 1 on May 15 to officially suspend the program. The move was urged by President Juan Manuel Santos and the country’s Health Ministry on the heels of a March 2015 report by the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Research in Cancer that concluded glyphosate, the chemical used in the eradication program, was believed to be carcinogenic to humans. The decision represents a profound victory for the Left and green opposition in Colombia, which maintains that aerial spraying has produced detrimental environmental effects, damaged legal crops, and devastated the livelihoods of poor farmers. While the decision received approval from research and advocacy organizations throughout Colombia, it has led to harsh criticism by U.S. and Colombian law enforcement officials who claim that terminating the aerial spray program could lead to a boost in the production of cocaine. Facing mounting pressure, President Santos has reassured critics that Colombia will continue to find ways of eliminating illicit coca plantations used for cocaine production.[1]

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