U.N. Narcotics Board Drops World’s No. 1 Cocaine Producer From Watch List
(CNSNews.com) - The United Nations-led International Narcotics Control Board has dropped Colombia from its watch list of countries with illicit drug problems despite acknowledging that the country is the world’s main cocaine producer.
Camilo Uribe, a Colombian national and a member of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said at a March 1 press briefing in Colombia’s capital city of Bogota that the move is intended to recognize the South American country’s progress in combating narco-trafficking and to encourage the effort.
“Colombia is removed in 2011 from the special observation list,” Uribe said, even though it “continues to be the world's largest cocaine producer.”
“I don't want to say there's no cultivation, trafficking or consumption,” Uribe said. “I want to say they have strengthened state institutions and the justice system.”
Just because Colombia is off the list, "This doesn't mean we'll let our guard down," Uribe added.
The Colombian government welcomed the UN’s decision.
“We continue with the challenge of reducing supply and demand,” Colombian Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas said during the press briefing in Bogota. He expressed his “approval” for the U.N.'s announcement.
The press conference in Bogota preceded the release on Wednesday of the U.N.’s 2010 report on illicit drugs.
According to that report, cocaine cultivation decreased in Colombia between 2008 and 2009. “In Colombia, potential illicit manufacture of cocaine in 2009 was estimated at 410 tons, 40 tons less than in 2008,” the report said.
However, the report added that Colombia’s reduction in cocaine cultivation and production is being offset by increases in other South American countries.
“The decrease in illicit coca bush cultivation in Colombia in the past decade has been partly compensated for by an increase in such cultivation on Bolivian and Peruvian territory,” stated the report. “The Board is concerned that if the current trend continues, in the period 2010-2011, Peru will replace Colombia as the world’s largest grower of illicit coca bush, a position last held by Peru in 1996.”
The report noted that Colombia also is a substantial producer of heroin in the South American region.
“In 2009, the South American country reporting the largest total amount of heroin seized was Colombia (over 735 kg), followed by Ecuador (178 kg) and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (80 kg),” the report said.
The U.N. report said most of the heroin consumed in the United States originates in Colombia or Mexico.