Biden administration suspended coca crop monitoring in Colombia

Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar called the decision "a favor" from Joe Biden to Colombian President Gustavo Petro.

Joe Biden's administration suspended the monitoring of illicit coca crops. White House and State Department officials confirmed the information to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo on Tuesday. "According to sources, the program that allowed them to measure the extent of coca plantations in the country was suspended months ago," the newspaper reported.

Republican Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar expressed her displeasure with the Democratic administration's move and called the decision "a favor" from Joe Biden to Colombian President Gustavo Petro. "They are willing to do anything to please their ideological allies. What will be the next favor? Will he remove the ELN from the terrorist list?" wrote Salazar on Twitter.

After the information was released, a communiqué from the U.S. Embassy in Colombia was issued, stressing that the United States will continue to work with the Colombian government on a strategy to solve the drug problem. In the document, the embassy also highlights the close collaboration between the two countries, based on trust. "Colombia and the United States address the negative impact of the illegal drug economy from a broad spectrum that encompasses the harm caused by consumption and the trafficking links as a whole," the statement said.

A new strategy from Gustavo Petro

Similarly, the embassy detailed that the United States and Colombia are working on a new policy, which was proposed by Gustavo Petro. "President Gustavo Petro is proposing a new drug policy in Colombia, which seeks to reduce the vulnerabilities associated with the production and use of psychoactive substances, as well as the capabilities of multi-crime organizations. U.S.-Colombia collaboration strengthens stability and progress in the region. Both countries support each other in the search for effective solutions to global issues.

Colombia and cocaine trafficking

A United Nations report explained in March that global cocaine production shot up dramatically in the last two years. "The World Cocaine Report 2023 details how cocaine cultivation soared 35% from 2020 to 2021, a record high and the steepest year-on-year increase since 2016. The increase is due to both the expansion of coca bush cultivation and improvements in the process of transforming coca leaf into cocaine hydrochloride," the UN said.

In this regard, the UN indicated that Colombia continues to dominate North American trafficking routes, where most of the cocaine is Colombian. He pointed out that the control previously held by groups of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), passed into the hands of other illegal groups. "The demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters, who until then controlled many of the country's coca-growing regions, opened the way for other local actors, former FARC guerrillas or even foreign groups from Mexico and Europe."