Elizabeth Mendez Berry at (212) 613-8036 or Melissa Milam at (212) 613-8037
A new UN report shows that the amount of coca produced in the Andean region went up in 2004, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid aimed at decreasing the region’s coca production (through a program called the Andean Counterdrug Initiative). According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s most recent data, from 2004, coca production has increased dramatically in Bolivia (by 35%) and Peru (by 23%), while decreasing slightly in Colombia, (by 11%): the region’s total production has increased by 2%.
The six-year old U.S. aid package called Plan Colombia, which represents by far the largest chunk of Andean Counterdrug Initiative dollars, is scheduled to end this year, but the Bush Administration has urged Congress to continue funding it. The Initiative’s stated goal is to decrease the supply of cocaine on U.S. streets and increase the drug’s price.
According to a recent open letter to Congress from the groups Taxpayers for Common Sense Action, Americans for Prosperity, National Taxpayers Union and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste:
“In 2000, U.S. taxpayers were assured that a significant financial investment in Colombia would lead to a 50 percent cut in coca production in the region thereby reducing the availability of cocaine and raising its price on U.S. streets. Similar goals were set for Colombia’s heroin production. Despite this multi-billion-dollar investment and a record 130,000 hectares of illicit crops sprayed in Colombia in 2004, new data prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy indicates […;] that the U.S. street prices of cocaine and heroin are at or near all-time lows. Meanwhile, the Justice Department this year reported ‘slightly increased availability’ of cocaine.”
“The government has justified spending billions of taxpayer dollars because they said Plan Colombia would reduce the cocaine supply on U.S. streets,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Cocaine is cheaper, purer, and more readily available than ever before. It is painfully obvious that the program has not achieved its goal.”
The UN report is viewable at: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crop_monitoring.html