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Andean Drug Policy Failure, U.S., Latin Officials Say


April 1993

The high profile U.S. policy of fighting drugs at the source in the Andean nations of Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia through providing equipment, assistance, and training to military units in those countries has not only accomplished nothing, but may have actually facilitated drug trafficking, numerous officials and narcotics experts said recently (Don Podesta and Douglas Farah, "Drug Policy In Andes Called Failure: Years Of Efforts Funded By U.S. Show Few Results -- If Any," Washington Post, 3/27/93, A1).

Narcotics experts and government officials interviewed by Washington Post reporters Don Podesta and Douglas Farah said U.S. aid to Latin military forces has accomplished nothing, and may have facilitated drug trafficking by arming forces collaborating with drug traffickers. The amount of cocaine base and refined cocaine coming from the Andean nations has remained stable over the last three years, after a decade of growth from 1980 to 1990, but none of the officials cited by the Post viewed the stabilization as a victory.

Even law enforcement officials interviewed for the story said that development aid, not just interdiction and arrests, was critical to progress. The picture to emerge is that coca remains far more valuable than other commodities available to poor farmers, with a built in marketing system provided by traffickers. Until equally lucrative alternatives are developed, the coca and cocaine trades will continue to flourish.