Cocaine is a popular but illicit and dangerous recreational drug. It is highly addictive and destructive to the user, and immensely profitable to the criminal organizations that manufacture, transport and sell it.
Cocaine is produced from coca leaves in regions of South America where coca has been used by the native populations for centuries. Almost 70 percent of cocaine produced globally comes from Colombia. Much of the coca crop there is grown in remote parts of the country where the government has less influence, and poverty is endemic.
In late September, U.S. government officials and Colombian officials discussed modernizing and refocusing counternarcotics efforts in Colombia. The U.S. and Colombian delegations agreed to a broad framework for a new bilateral, holistic counternarcotics strategy. The discussion on a new framework focused on three pillars: integrated reduction in cocaine supply, comprehensive rural security and development, and environmental protection. The approach is to focus on Colombia’s countryside, the hard-to-reach regions where government power is weak and criminal organizations dominate.
With assistance from the United States, the Government of Colombia will promote stability in rural areas, establish effective and sustainable national government presence and services, accelerate comprehensive rural development, beef up citizen security, guarantee the protection of human rights, and strengthen rule of law. At the same time, the Colombian government will work to break down drug trafficking supply chains, sustain coca eradication, disrupt the production of cocaine by interrupting the import of chemicals used to produce cocaine, and increase interceptions of drug shipments.
To reduce money laundering and strengthen asset forfeiture, the two sides also agreed to focus on reducing illicit cash transactions, while concentrating on the arrest, prosecutions, and extraditions of key traffickers and their enablers, and strengthening Colombia’s judicial system.
The Colombian government will continue to eradicate coca crops and seek to sustain these gains and prevent farmers from replanting. To help farmers transition from growing coca, the Colombian government will increase investments in coca-growing regions, including by the creation of new, legal opportunities and improving roads and productive infrastructure to contribute to rural development. The main goal of the new strategy is to transform rural areas, emphasizing a culture of lawfulness, above-board economies and advancement of rural Colombia’s transition to peace.
Colombia and the United States recognize that complex problems, such as drug trafficking, are a shared responsibility that require long-term solutions and a comprehensive, sustained political response.