Coca eradicators in Peru

The Peruvian government has sent a no compromise message to coca growers, reinforcing the Humala administration's hardline policies against coca cultivation.

In an interview with La Republica, Carmen Masias, the President of the government's Governing Board of the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA), dismissed calls for a truce from coca growers in the Monzon Valley region in central Peru.

"These people have asked for a truce. But what do they want, a truce of 10 years or 20 years? They were already given a truce and what did they do? They planted more coca," said Masias.

Masias also rejected the coca growers' demands for compensation immediately after eradication.

"These people sell to narco-traffickers, and you have to bear that in mind," she said. "They have money saved away, they won't die of hunger."

In the future the government would carry out a soil analysis to determine what legal crop substitutions are appropriate for the region, she said, but did not specify when this would take place.

In January, President Ollanta Humala's government announced its eradication targets for the coming year -- which were 57 percent higher than 2012. For the first time, eradication efforts will include the Monzon Valley -- which has long been an epicenter of coca cultivation. A previous incursion into the valley by Peru's main coca eradication authority, known as the CORAH, sparked a confrontation that left two dead.

InSight Crime Analysis

Unlike the picture painted by Masias, in most regions farmers plant coca out of necessity and are rarely if ever party to the huge profits made by drug traffickers. Without sustainable, long-term economic substitution programs and significant social investment, growers are likely to have little choice but to return to coca cultivation.

To be sure, Masias comments reflect a stubbornly persistent approach to combating the drug trade that has had little tangible success. Peru, like Colombia and Bolivia, has for years targeted coca growers with eradication programs, which have had minimal impact on the availability and prices of drugs or the profits of traffickers, but have left poverty-stricken communities vulnerable.

The plan could also cause political issues for Humala, who was the only candidate in the last elections who pledged to move away from forced eradication.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...