Colombia's Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez urged Sunday authorities to fight properly drug trafficking in the country, including via the controversial forced eradication of illicit crops.
“If we don't move forward with the fight against drugs, if we maintain this pace, drug trafficking will expropriate peace and start a new cycle of violence in Colombia,” warned Martinez in an interview with El Tiempo.
Asked about the “war on drugs” implemented with the controversial support of the U.S. military forces, he added that he was not optimistic about the eradication of illicit coca crops.
“Out of the 180,000 hectares of illicit crops registered in the beginning of the year, (the government) only agreed to destroy about half of them,” he said.
In his opinion, instead of reducing conflict in rural areas, the peace accords have resulted in the consolidation of “other old illegal armed groups” and the emergence of new ones, who are now fighting each other for the control of the coca rent.
His comments come two weeks after seven campesinos were killed at a demonstration against the eradication of their coca crops in Tumaco on October 5.
For decades, the Colombian government has implemented a strict policy of forced eradication of coca crops via aerial fumigation by military forces, with the important support of U.S. military forces as part of a long-standing cooperation know as Plan Colombia.
However, the plan failed to properly fight drug-trafficking in the country, while poverty in rural areas has remained one of Colombia's main issues, illustrated by the armed conflict with the guerrilla rebels, known as FARC, that lasted over half a decade.
As a result, a ground-breaking peace accord was signed in Havana last October. With the document, the government agreed to make radical changes in their drug policy, taking into accounts the needs of poor campesinos forced to grow coca crops for survival, offering instead the implementation of programs of substitution of coca crops.
But FARC leaders and campesinos have complained that authorities have not fulfilled their commitments yet, putting peace at risk, as the massacre of campesinos in Tumaco proved. Under national and international pressure, President Manuel Santos eventually promised to make the substitution programs a top priority of his government, but opponents to the peace accords still insist in resuming the tradition of forced eradication of illicit crops, such as former President Alvaro Uribe and Attorney General Martinez.