Colombian gov’t tries to eradicate coca plantations, activists fight back

Global Business

Colombian gov't tries to eradicate cocoa plantations, activists fight back

Colombia is growing more cocaine-producing crops than ever before.

The latest data shows an 18 percent jump in 2016 from the year before.

The government has been taking steps to slash production — including forced eradication of coca plantations.

Protesters who said they are farmers are fighting back.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

Colombian gov't tries to eradicate cocoa plantations, activists fight back

Colombia is growing more cocaine-producing crops than ever before. The latest data shows an 18 percent jump in 2016 from the year before. The government has been taking steps to slash production -- including forced eradication of coca plantations. Protesters who said they are farmers are fighting back. CGTN's Michelle Begue reports.

Machetes in hand, unidentified men face off against Colombia’s anti-riot police in the middle of coca fields. The men said they are coca farmers protesting forced eradication. The government said they are being paid by drug cartels to protect industrial coca fields.

According to a 2015 United Nations report, one fourth of the country’s coca crops are grown in and around the Tumaco region, on Colombia’s pacific coast.

FARC guerrillas used to operate in this drug trafficking hotspot. Officials warn that guerillas, who don’t adhere to last year’s peace agreement will be prosecuted. The government has current plans to forcibly eradicate 3,000 of the 19,000 hectares now devoted to coca in Tumaco. The rest of the land will qualify for crop substitution programs.

Despite poverty in the region, former coca farmer Luis says growing the illegal plant is not worth the risk. That is why he turned to fishing four years ago.