By Diego Carranza
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) -- Colombia issued a strong response Thursday to a threat by U.S. President Donald Trump to decertify it as a partner in the war against drugs unless it reverses a record surge in cocaine production.
“Colombia is, without a doubt, the country that has fought the most against drugs, having the biggest successes in this regard. No one has to threaten us to face this challenge,” the government said in a statement.
The government said it is dealing with illegal cocoa crops through eradication and voluntary crop substitution. They reported that during 2017, 31,000 hectares have been forcibly removed. Also the voluntary crop substitution program is in full development focused on eradicating 100,000 hectares of cocoa.
“Colombia has today, because of the peace process, a unique opportunity to definitely overcome that issue, and it won’t be lost,” according to the response.
Colombian authorities said they achieved strong results over the past seven years. Since 2010, 1,621 tons of pure cocaine has been seized. In 2016 alone, it seized 362 tons, and so far in 2017, 275 tons.
The office of President Juan Manuel Santos underscored that it has never lowered its guard against criminal organizations, pointing to the case of the drug trafficking neo-paramilitary group Clan del Golfo, which offered to surrender a week ago.
“Criminal organizations such as the Clan del Golfo now have half the members they had prior to the beginning of Santos’ presidential term.”