The United States explained that the suspension of data collection on coca crops in Colombia is something “temporary”, while ensuring that it will continue to monitor these plantations in coordination with the Colombian government.
The newspaper El Tiempo published that Washington had suspended the satellite monitoring of crops in Colombia used for decades, a news echoed on Wednesday by Colombian President Gustavo Petro, assuring that “things change.”
A spokesman for the US State Department said that the measure is “temporary” and that the government “constantly evaluates the effectiveness of anti-narcotics policies and makes changes as necessary.”
In any case, he stressed that the United States “continues to work with the Colombian government to monitor illicit coca fields.”
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy prepares an annual report with an estimate of coca crops and potential cocaine production in what it calls the Andean region, made up of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.
This report is different from the one published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on coca leaf fields and cocaine production.
two separate reports
The State Department spokesman defended that “having two separate reports with different methodologies helps to obtain a better understanding of the situation” since the UNODD estimates provide “additional information.”
The latest report, published in July of last year with data from 2021, found a reduction in both cocaine production and coca cultivated hectares in Colombia.
The State Department has not clarified whether this year it will publish the report with data from 2022, nor whether it will use another type of metric from now on.
Since assuming the presidency in 2022, Petro has opposed Washington’s decades-long war on drugs and the use of hectares of coca leaf crops as a metric to measure the success of drug policy.
a holistic approach
The Colombian leader has called for a new comprehensive approach to the problem, as he believes that the war on drugs has turned out to be a failure.
The spokesman for US diplomacy said that “disrupting cocaine trafficking remains a high priority” along with combating fentanyl.
“We continue to work with Colombia and other regional partners to monitor the production of illicit drugs and hold criminal organizations involved in the production or trafficking of these substances accountable,” he said.
Upon learning of the suspension of monitoring, Republican congresswoman María Elvira Salazar criticized on Twitter the “little favor” to Petro from the US president, Democrat Joe Biden.
The Colombian president responded that “the structure of drug consumption is changing for the worse, which is reducing the demand for cocaine” in the United States, where fentanyl has triggered all the alarms.