IIAP to open office aimed at combating coca leaf production in isolated region

The president of the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute, or IIAP, said Tuesday they would establish an office with support from Peru’s anti-drug agency, or Devida, in the north-eastern Loreto department to combat coca-growing operations promoted by drug traffickers from neighbouring Colombia.

The office will be based in Caballococha, located in the Ramón Castilla province.

“Devida will provide resources to promote productive goods and indirectly eliminate coca leaf production,” IIAP president Luis Campos said in comments to the Coordinadora Nacional de Radio, or CNR. “When people begin to produce fish and native fruits for a good price, they automatically change to healthier, more transparent and more ethical activities.”

Coca leaf production has reportedly increased in Loreto following a collapse in the regions lumber industry, a lack of state presence and social assistance, and an increase in drug traffickers from Colombia during the last two years.

Jorge Ruiz, the mayor of Cushillococha in Ramón Castilla, told CNR last week that indigenous communities are planting and harvesting coca for Colombian drug traffickers, who move easily into Peru through the sparsely populated and porous border area, due to the lack of employment and state abandonment.

“Almost the majority of residents work (by harvesting coca leaf) because they have seen that we are marginalized by the president of the republic and all of the provincial authorities,” said Ruiz. “We know it is a crime. It is an illicit plant, but the hunger, the misery, the poverty push us toward it.”

The mayor of Ramón Castilla province, Gregorio Quispe, told CNR on Monday that local authorities are hesitant to combat coca production fearing reprisal from organized crime and lack of support from regional and national governments.

“No one wants take the initiative,” said Castilla. “If someone organizes a meeting to discuss security, the next day their home is painted with threats, or they end up dead. You have to understand that.”

Peru was, until 1996, the world’s largest coca leaf producer, and is now the world’s second largest producer of coca leaf, though it still lags behind Colombia.

Peru slashed its production by 70 percent between 1995 and 2001 primarily because of low coca prices, interdiction, forced eradication of coca fields and programs that encourage farmers to grow alternative crops.

But by 2002, the number of hectares used to illegally grow coca in Peru increased as efforts to eradicate the crop in Colombia forced production southward.

This can be explained, in part, by the balloon effect, or the drug fields’ tendency to shift elsewhere and sometimes to smaller and harder-to-reach plots in response to local eradication campaigns, and the fact that for farmers, the coca harvest provides more money than any other crop: up to five times as much can be earned for a kilogram of coca than for a kilogram of coffee.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *