Saturday, July 04, 2015

Coca Cultivation in Colombia

The UN says that coca planting in Colombia increased 44% in 2014. Meanwhile, over at Insight Crime there is a nice, concise discussion about how UN estimates differ from US ones.

Some thoughts:

First, this will be used in criticisms of Juan Manuel Santos' decision to stop aerial spraying. The practice is extremely unpopular in Colombia and extremely popular in the United States, where no one has to deal with the effects.

Second, looking at Colombia in isolation is problematic because we should also understand whether coca planting/cultivation is changing elsewhere. Are we seeing a balloon effect or something else?

Third, how does this relate to cocaine demand elsewhere, including the U.S., Latin America, and Europe? If demand is increasing somewhere, that requires immediate and visible attention.

Fourth, why does the White House not explain its methods of estimation? We could learn something useful from why estimates vary. For example, are they WAGs?


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