Amid an alarming rise in rural violence in Colombia, the country’s U.S.-backed drug policy is facing a new test. Bogotá argues that eliminating coca—the raw material for cocaine—is the only route to improving security in the countryside. Yet its hard-line approach of forcefully eradicating the crop is having the opposite effect, exacerbating conflict in rural Colombia. Eradication places low-income, vulnerable farming communities in jeopardy, while having little impact on drug supply to the United States.
Without a change in course, these U.S.-supported drug policies could do yet more damage, undermining Colombia’s ability to consolidate peace after its 2016 agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The Biden administration has an opportunity to reframe its priorities in Colombia. At this critical juncture, experts from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the International Crisis Group, and Corporación Viso Mutop will discuss the troubling cycle of violence in the countryside and how the U.S. government can ensure that its drug policy goals contribute to Colombia’s consolidation of peace and long-term stability. The panel joins WOLA’s deep expertise on drug policy in Latin America, Viso Mutop’s field-level experience, and the on-the-ground analysis of a newly published International Crisis Group report: Deeply Rooted: Coca eradication and violence in Colombia.