Part of the United States’ anti-drug program involves working to decrease supplies of certain drugs that make their way into our market. International policies have recently focused on decreasing cocaine crops and production in South American countries.
The Top 3 Cocaine Producers
The U.S. government continues to allocate funds into efforts in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, the top 3 countries for cocaine production. By decreasing the supply of the drugs, the government is expecting that our cocaine problem in the U.S. will decrease also. In fact, the U.S. is so sure this is the way to go that the government has spent $71.7 million on the cause in Peru this year, and $5 billion in Colombia in the last 10 years. The money is used for staff, facilities, supplies, and equipment, such as helicopters that spray fields of coca.
The Profit of Coca Plants
Many people disagree with our government’s plan of supply-oriented intervention. Some of the people most impacted by the eradication of coca crops are the farmers that grow the plants in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. These locals are often so poor, that taking this crop away would take away any means they have to support their families. Their governments have pledged to help the farmers grow different crops, but so far this has not happened. No other crop could come close to bringing in the kind of money coca does, anyway, not even coffee or cacao. Even though coca is used in local religious ceremonies legally, it brings in a much higher profit when sold to drug traffickers.
Drug Traffickers on Top of the Game
These traffickers have been busy at work for the last few decades. When governments crack down on one area of a country for their drug production, drug traffickers are able to quickly pick up and move to a different region. This is another reason many people see the U.S.’s efforts and money spending as futile. We are now going back to areas in Peru which had been the focus of coca reductions in the past, but the traffickers keep popping back up when the focus is turned elsewhere.
Another concern is guerilla groups, such as Shining Path, which waged war on local governments that tried to reduce coca production. This group controls many of the growing areas, and will not stand by and let them be taken away. Some people see Peru and Bolivia becoming ravaged by guerilla groups just as Mexico is being torn apart by cartels now.
Solutions to the Drug Problem
The United States is largely responsible for the cocaine demand being as high as it is today. To many people, it doesn’t seem fair that we are now the ones demanding that troops take local farmers’ livelihoods away from them.
Instead, prevention and treatment are areas where huge strides are being made. By focusing on helping our people get well, or avoid using cocaine in the first place, we can naturally reduce the demand for the coca plant.