Colombia's drug problem is worse than ever. But it has a radical solution
Bogota CNN —When Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first progressive president, took office in August, he laid out an ambitious agenda.
“A few years ago, you’d have to drive for hours to see coca crops.
Colombian president Gustavo Petro speaks during a press conference about the first 100 days of his government in office, in Bogota on November 15.
But soon enough, the cartels will start competing for the harvests here, and the competition between them is to the death.
Competing with cocaineConvincing farmers to stop growing coca has been one of Colombia’s largest problems for the last fifty years.
“The first thing to notice from the report is the total failure of the war on drugs,” says Colombia’s Justice Minister Nestor Osuna and one of the people tasked with coming up with a new solution to the drug problem.
Eventually, crop substitution will take place on a massive scale by expanding the farming frontier of Colombia, he says.
“If we offer a sustainable alternative to the farmers harvesting coca, they will take it.
The plan is to relocate thousands of farmers who are currently harvesting coca into unused agricultural for a fresh start with legal crops.
Colombia has tried crop replacement in the past, but failed to overcome the appeal of coca.
Members of Colombia's anti-narcotics police seize a cargo of molasses mixed with cocaine that was being sent to Valencia in Spain in Cartagena, Colombia on February 4, 2022.
According to a 2019 study from the University of Oxford, the drug trade is worth almost 2% of Colombia’s GDP.