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Tuesday, 16 May 2017 00:00

A calling for structural transformation of illicit crops

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The south of Bolívar region in Colombia has been characterized as an area rich in water and mineral resources, but this image contrasts with the abandonment of the State towards communities that for decades have been subjected to poverty.

Due to the geographical features where several departments converge, this region has been a corridor between the Caribbean, Santander and the center of the country regions; its geographic and climatic conditions, together with its strategic position make this place a disputed territory among the different actors of the armed conflict. Drug traffickers and paramilitaries have displaced peasant communities and coca cultivation has become a source of subsistence for the population.

Given the lack of social investment and the absence of the State, the traditional production of banana, yuca, cocoa or coffee was discouraged; thus favoring the production of coca, since this, with a relative low investment, generates greater profitability. This way the peasants are involved in the spiral of social conflict. Upon being treated as drug traffickers by the establishment, they become victims of the US anti-drug policies and the successive governments that have historically persecuted them.

Also read "A changing vision on drugs: Colombia"

As part of the implementation of the agreements, the insurgency of the FARC-EP and the National Government, as a contribution to find a solution to this problem, had addressed the need to reach an agreement on Comprehensive Rural Reform for the development and the opening of the country-side to technologies, democratization in the use of the land and the strengthening of the peasants’ economy.

Taking as reference the Havana Final Agreement, peasants and social organizations met last May 14 in San Pablo, south of Bolivar, to create the Bolivar Departmental Coordinator of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Cultivators (Coccam - Bolivar), as an alternative to ensure the implementation of Point 4 on substitution of illicit crops.

The farmers grouped together in Coccam - Bolívar call for the structural transformation of their crops, with a territorial approach, in a concerted and gradual way, joining the National Comprehensive Program of Substitution (PNIS) of illicit crops, which is being carried out in the territories since last May 8.

According to the High Councillor for the Post-conflict, Rafael Pardo, "In the first phase of the PNIS we have reached agreements with 85 thousand families to substitute 63 thousand hectares of coca" initially in the departments of Meta, Norte de Santander, Guaviare and Putumayo.

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