Colombia’s plans to resume aerial fumigation of coca just got less likely

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The plans of Colombia’s government to fight coca cultivation with aerial fumigation have reportedly become less likely after a key court magistrate advised against it.

The country’s Constitutional Court is expected to rule on President Ivan Duque‘s request to loosen the restrictions that would allow the resumption of aerial spraying on Friday.

Key magistrate advises to maintain ban on glysophate

The magistrate who studied this request advised his colleagues to vote against the government request, according to Blu Radio.

If the rest of the court takes the advise of Magistrate Alberto Rojas, this would be the latest blow against Duque’s repressive drug policy.

While supported by the US government, the aerial fumigation of coca is opposed by the United Nations counternarcotics agency UNODC and local experts because of its failures to produce long-term results.

The strategy that allegedly works all but suspended

Former President Juan Manuel Santos in 2017 introduced a new and allegedly more effective strategy that sought to reduce cocaine production through a program that allowed coca farmers access to the legal economy through crop substitution and the development of road infrastructure.

This so-called PNIS program is part of an ongoing peace process with demobilized FARC guerrillas that has been fiercely opposed by Duque and his far-right Democratic Center party.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has also failed to either endorse or sponsor the PNIS program, which has all but come to a halt since Duque took office.

The UNODC, local experts and farmers have urged to execute the PNIS program, insisting it is the only effective strategy to effectively combat drug trafficking.

In the meantime: chaos

Duque’s failure to continue Santos’ counternarcotics strategy and the glysophate ban have drastically reduced the government’s ability to counter cocaine production.

The government has stepped up efforts to manually eradicate coca, but this is draining resources because it requires anti-narcotics police to manually remove crops.

In many cases, farmers simply replant coca once the eradicators have left, making also this strategy highly ineffective and costly.

Furthermore, experts and political leaders have warned that the government’s failure to provide alternative ways to make a living could force coca farmers to side with illegal armed groups to protect their livelihood.

Duque boldly announced just a few weeks ago that he would resume aerial fumigation “within weeks,” but if the court maintains its ban on glysophate the president can forget this ever happening.

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