UN: Colombia Sets New Cocaine Production Record

    UN: Colombia Sets New Cocaine Production Record
    Last updated Sep 12, 2023
    Image credit: Unsplash


    • The UN Office on Drugs and Crime stated in a report released on Monday that the estimated cocaine output in Colombia — the world's biggest producer of the drug — increased by 24% in 2022, soaring to 1,738 tons and setting a new record high.
    • This comes as satellite images showed the area cultivated with coca leaf, the raw material for refined cocaine, rose to 230K hectares (roughly 570K acres) last year in the country.
    • Nearly two-thirds of the coca crops are reportedly grown in the provinces of Nariño and Putumayo, along the border with Ecuador, as well as in North Santander, on the Venezuelan border.
    • These are the highest numbers regarding both the amount of area planted with coca in Colombia and the country's potential production of the illegal drug since the UN began monitoring in 2001.
    • Colombia's Justice Minister Néstor Osuna, however, pointed out that the annual growth of coca plantings slowed to 13% from 43% in 2021, stressing this deceleration may soon lead to a reduction in crops.
    • This annual report came two days after Colombia's first-ever leftist president, Gustavo Petro, urged Latin America to shift its focus from a war on drugs to public health while speaking at a regional conference on the matter.


    Left narrative

    The decades-long war on drugs has completely failed to stop the flow of cocaine, as huge profits encourage drug trafficking gangs to adapt their smuggling methods to prevent law enforcement as well as to boost their productivity. As global production soars and the world gets awash with cocaine, it's evident that full-on decriminalization might be the only way to stem the violence.

    Right narrative

    Given that the international community has adhered to a unified drug prohibition approach, Petro has been dangerously putting Colombia on the brink of becoming a narco-state by changing the course of the war on drugs. Legalizing the cocaine trade in the country will have negative security implications not only for Colombia but for the entire hemisphere.

    Political split



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