Most Colombians don't like America and Americans
There has been a huge increase in cocaine use in the US. At the same time, coca cultivation in Colombia is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Coincidence? Probably not. The US State Department's annual report shows that the two facts are related. As a result, tested samples from American street dealers showed that 90 percent of cocaine comes from Colombia.
When Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos comes to Washington on May 18, his counterpart Donald Trump will likely bring up the issue. After all, the United States is grappling with a massive drug problem among the population. The consumption of heroin and fentanyl - the opiate pain reliever that also killed Prince - is taking on epidemic proportions.
Now the country is confronted with the fact that the number of cocaine users has also increased rapidly: from the officially measured 601,000 people in 2013 to 968,000 in 2015. More and more young Americans are trying the white drug, it says in the latest national study on drug use and health. According to the report, 7,400 people died of cocaine overdoses in 2015, more than in the previous ten years.
At the same time, the acreage for cocaine in Colombia is growing by leaps and bounds, according to calculations by the US government recently by 18 percent. In 2016, 188,000 hectares of land were planted with coca bushes. Not even in the days of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who industrialized trade in the 1970s, were so many shrubs of this crop grown. Correspondingly, cocaine production soared in 2016 - according to estimates by the US government, by 37 percent to 710 tons.
Since an estimated two to three years elapse between cultivation and sale, experts fear that the large delivery is still to come - so the cocaine wave is only just rolling in.
The oversized supply is already causing prices to drop and the white powder to become affordable for more and more people. The cultivation is in full swing, so that the farmers can hardly keep up with the harvest. The plants would partially rot in the fields, said Colombia's Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas Washington Post. "We have never seen anything like it".
President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his negotiations with the FARC guerrilla movement. He was sure that this would also get the coca problem under control. The rebels had financed the 52-year struggle against the government mainly with cocaine - often as a middleman between farmers and Mexican drug cartels who bring the goods to the United States.
With the peace treaty, 7,000 guerrillas have laid down their weapons and left the drug business. But anyone who thought that drug production would have taken care of itself is wrong. Since then, gangs and cartels have bitterly argued about the gap created by the withdrawal of the FARC. The "national liberation army" ELN, a smaller communist guerrilla force, is also apparently increasingly involved in drug trafficking, reports the Colombian weekly newspaper Semana.
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