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PERU: The expansion of coca cultivation is a serious risk to national stability & world trafficking

Lima, Oct.18 (– According to an editorial of "El Comercio" newspaper, «Peru has become a narco-state for a time; In other words, in a country in which the main policy decisions are made based on the interests of drug traffickers». However, it appears as if President Castillo is not concerned with a substantial expansion of the influence of drug trafficking in his country.

Political volatility has become more pronounced in recent years, including the radical removal of Congress in 2019 and the impeachment and rapid rotation of presidents amid civic mobilizations during November 2020, policy changes advocated by the left-wing Free Peru party, of which the President is a member. Peru Coca Fields

The Peruvian president’s first months in office have been characterized by chaos, extremisms and -according to critics- sheer incompetence. In addition, coca crops have expanded to 150,000 acres in 2021, a 10% increase since 2019, and according to Rubén Vargas, former Minister of the Interior, by 2022 an estimated 248,000 acres are estimated, enough to produce 180,000 tons of coca leaf. It is worth noting that the traditional coca market requires only 7% of that whole production. Therefore, the surplus would go to the production of cocaine. A report published yesterday by this newspaper reported that, in the Vraem (the valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro rivers) alone, the potential production of cocaine has gone from 112 tons in 2012 to 280 tons in 2020.

El Comercio editorial mentions the recent visit to Vraem of President Castillo, early this month of October, highlighting his intention to turn coca cultivation into an industrial activity under the Empresa Nacional de la Coca (Enaco): "This blessed leaf is not white at all; it is a green leaf because we "chacchamos"1 our coca and that for us is a sacred leaf", said President Castillo, deliberately ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority of this "blessed leaf" goes to organized crime.

Pedro CastilloEl Comercio signals that: «Beyond President Castillo, alarms have also been raised by the appointment of Interior Minister Luis Barranzuela, a character with multiple questions, including his well-known opposition to the eradication of coca crops. "Make yourself felt in front of the president of the Republic: no to the eradication of the coca leaf!" he harangued in a meeting with coca growers a few days before taking office in the Executive.»

The Peruvian newspaper concludes that: «At the current rate, the point is rapidly approaching where the government's errors and omissions in this matter can only be understood in the light of illicit interests in the 'blessed sheet' from the top of power.»

1 Chewing coca as a social, ritual or medicinal stimulant practice