President Trump has effectively threatened to cut off loans and other forms of aid to Colombia if it can’t restrain cocaine production, according to Bloomberg. Production from the country has more than tripled since 2013 and those fighting the "war" on the ground, like police officer Jose Carvajal, are in desperate need of more help and resources. Carvajal recently lost his legs from a landmine while protecting workers that were digging up coca in Colombia.
And Colombian President Iván Duque's government has stepped up eradication programs, but the armed illegal groups that are protecting the plants are fighting back, utilizing things like landmines to protect their "investments". At least 11 people have been killed and 84 injured in operations put forth to eradicate coca this year.
Meanwhile, President Trump said in March that Colombia's President has "done nothing for us". The U.S. Office of National Drug Council Policy will publish its annual report in coming days and, if cocaine production continues to hit records, Trump may follow through on his threats. For one, he wants to end certain aid to the country and, in addition, he wants to "decertify" Colombia as a partner in the war on drugs.
It would essentially make Colombia like Venezuela: the US would end most economic aid and automatically vote against Colombia getting loans from lenders such as the World Bank.
Between the years 2000 to 2012, coca production fell by about 70% and Peru even overtook Colombia as the world's biggest producer. But since then, figures have soared. The World Health Organization issued a report in 2015 calling the herbicide glyphosate possibly carcinogenic, which led the government to suspend aerial spraying of coca crops. Colombia‘s president wants to resume the spraying, but faces both political and legal challenges.
Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America says: "Decertification is a more real possibility this year than in any past year.”
Trump is seen as likely to ignore advice from Latin American experts if coca production rises even 5%. This would fall in line with Trump's pledge to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to places like Guatemala and Honduras over their failure to curb migration – actions that also stood at odds with the advice of experts.
Tom Shannon, who was Trump’s under secretary of state for political affairs until June 2018 said:
“The president has been frustrated with the increase in coca production and cocaine production and trafficking ever since he came to office and has looked for ways to signal his frustration. The frustration is felt not only at the White House but also in our Congress.”
Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives recommended that Colombia get $457 million in aid next year after receiving $418 million in 2019. The Colombia government said it plans to borrow $1.6 billion from multilateral lenders in 2020. If it were cut off, the government would have to rely more on issuing bonds. The decertification of Colombia could lead to making it a "pretty reluctant partner" of the U.S. on some issues, like Venezuela.
Meanwhile, we reported just days ago on one of the largest cocaine busts in history, where $1 billion worth of the drug was discovered by authorities at the port of Philadelphia.
The US has given Colombia more than $10 billion in aid since it implemented a multibillion dollar counternarcotics plan known as "Plan Colombia" under President Bill Clinton. But regardless, it was all for naught: Colombia now produces more cocaine then when the plan started.
Carvajal concluded: “It’s frustrating having lost my legs so young. Drugs bring a lot of negative consequences, and not just to people who consume them.”