- CORRECTS 3RD GRAF TO READ DEALING WITH ILLEGAL COCA CROPS THROUGH ERADICATION AND VOLUNTARY CROP SUBSTITUTION, NOT COCOA CROPS, AS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED
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,” Bogota said in a statement.
The government said it is dealing with illegal coca crops through eradication and voluntary crop substitution. It reported that during 2017, 31,000 hectares (77,000 acres) have been forcibly removed. Also, the voluntary crop substitution program is in full development focused on eradicating 100,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of coca.
“Colombia has today, because of the peace process, a unique opportunity to definitely overcome that issue, and it won’t be lost,” the statement said.
Colombian authorities said they achieved strong results in the last 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 it has never lowered its guard against criminal organizations, pointing to the case of the drug trafficking neo-paramilitary group Clan del Golfo, that offered to surrender last week.
“Criminal organizations such as the Clan del Golfo now have half the members they had prior to the beginning of Santos’ presidential term.” according to a statement.