Colombian President Iván Duque called a meeting with senior US officials after the White House published a report on the increase in illicit coca crops in the South American country.
“In the coming weeks we will have a high-level meeting in the city of Washington, with officials from our Government and the Government of the United States, with the purpose of strengthening these information reading methodologies“Duque announced this Friday during an event in the Catatumbo region.
The president thus responded to the report of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, for its acronym in English), published this Friday, on the cultivation and production of coca in the Andean region.
According to the agency, an instance of the Executive Office of the US Presidency, illicit crops and the potential production of coca in Colombia reached a record figure in 2020, when accounting 245,000 hectares planted and 1,010 metric tons.
This represented a 15% increase in hectares of crops and a 7.9% rise in cocaine production compared to 2019, when the same entity estimated an area of 212,000 hectares and 936 metric tons in the Colombian territory.
Response from Colombia
For his part, the president of the Latin American nation called to “unify methodologies”, since the technical reports of the United Nations Organization (UN) showed a reduction in illicit crops in Colombia, including “record numbers of manual eradication, surpassing the 130,000 hectares, “he said.
“I value the sense of seeking to read this situation and unify figures and unify methodologies, as was also agreed this week with the US Government, in order to establish what the causes of these gaps may be,” Duque said.
“Just as the United Nations independent analysis studies show a significant reduction in 2020, the US government has registered an increase in 2020, and I value the sense of seeking to read this situation and unify figures and methodologies ” pic.twitter.com/A6YNLNReFB
– Presidency Colombia 🇨🇴 (@infopresidencia) June 25, 2021
In a Press release, the Government of Colombia explained that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) registered a reduction in illicit crops for three consecutive years.
Unlike the 15% increase documented by the ONDCP, the Colombian authorities indicated that the UNODC reported for 2020 a 7% decrease in illicit crops in the territory.
Despite the disparity, the Duque government highlighted that the figures published by the ONDCP on coca crops and cocaine production “show that the fight against illicit drugs remains a huge challenge“.
For its part, the US Office of National Drug Control Policy called on Colombia to implement “comprehensive approaches” that combine economic development, greater government presence, citizen security policies and the “eradication in rural areas key to reducing cocaine production in a sustainable way“.
Rise in Peru and decrease in Bolivia
In the case of Peru, the ONDCP reported a 22.5% increase in coca crops and a 24.80% increase in cocaine production in 2020, after accounting for a total of 88,200 hectares harvested Y 810 metric tons of cocaine estimated.
The US body stated that Peru reached record levels in coca cultivation and cocaine production, in part because eradication efforts were affected for several months by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, the cultivation of coca in Bolivia totaled 39,400 hectares in 2020, which represented “a slight decrease” of 7% compared to 2019. Meanwhile, the “corresponding cocaine production potential remained stable, at 312 metric tons,” the ONDCP noted in its report.