Money $5 Billion Dollar Shock
posted by June 19 at 10:27 AMon
What happens when the U.S. government tries to eradicate coca crops in South America? Farmers grow more of it—a lot more.
The amount of land devoted to production of coca, the leaf used to make cocaine, has grown at a dramatic pace in Colombia despite a huge American-funded counter-drug program of aerial fumigation and aggressive interdiction, a U.N. agency said Wednesday.
In a 132-page report based on satellite imagery and on-the-ground surveys, the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime said that Colombian farmers planted 245,000 acres of coca last year, 27 percent more than in 2006. Coca cultivation in the world’s three top producers, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, increased 16 percent, to 448,743 acres, a swath of land slightly smaller than Delaware.
“The increase in coca cultivation in Colombia is a surprise and shock,” Antonio Maria Costa, director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a statement. “A surprise because it comes at a time when the Colombian government is trying so hard to eradicate coca; a shock because of the magnitude of cultivation.”
The findings follow almost eight years of heavy aerial fumigation of drug crops in Colombia, an American-designed strategy that has cost more than $5 billion.
Costa’s naiveté is just astounding. He’s the world’s drug czar, yet he experiences “surprise and shock” at supply and demand. Perhaps someone needs to tell him that cocaine sells for $100 a gram.
But it’s not just economics. The fumigation itself is actually propagating more coca fields. According to a report released in March, every time the U.S. sprays crops, farmers have to move to other regions, where they plant more. Betcha that if Costa had bothered to read that report, he wouldn’t be shocked.