Colombia’s radical plan to conquer cocaine for national production and export
By David Schaper, CNN
Updated 2428 GMT (02:28 GMT)
Colombia announced a radical plan on Friday to combat cocaine production and distribution by taking possession of cocaine plants and the cocaine trade for a future of national production and export.
President Juan Manuel Santos says he wants to move Colombia away from “coffee and cocoa and produce cocaine for our national use,” as well as to create a “new industrial revolution” in the country that will help bring about better conditions in the farming sector.
“We want to seize our destiny and turn Colombia into an industrial and agricultural country,” Santos said in a letter to Congress.
The cocaine trade is central to the economy since the vast majority of Colombians use it for livelihood and to fund their consumption.
The government says it will create a national network of prosecutors to combat trafficking, and plans to send agents into the coca plantations to prevent poaching and to collect data on production.
Santos says he wants authorities to identify “the people behind the drugs” and punish them.
“The most important thing is to give orders for seizing the plantations and for seizing the cocaine plants and all the wealth being produced in the plantations,” he told a news conference.
Colombia’s president said it would have been easier for him to launch a plan like this if it did not have a “certain amount of difficulty.” He said he had to “overthrow the state” in order to carry out the plan.
Santos added he would take the cocaine trade to the Organization of American States (OAS) next week, after which it would go to the World Health Organization.
The OAS, which has no legal standing, has already banned exports of coca leaves and has said it will review its position in due course.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declined to comment. It has previously supported the move, saying the country has not fully implemented a 1996 law that prohibits cocaine production.
The UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime said the move was a “vital first step” in the fight against trafficking. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said the cocaine trade is “a major source of instability and poverty for the region, particularly among communities targeted by the