LatinNews Daily - 24 July 2023

US to suspend satellite monitoring of coca crops in Colombia

Colombia: On 12 July Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro responded to the decision of the US government led by President Joe Biden to suspend satellite monitoring of coca crops in Colombia, highlighting a shift in drug policy. On Twitter, Petro stated that “things are changing”, highlighting that drug consumption patterns were changing “for the worse”, resulting in reduced demand for cocaine, which is now moving to other parts of the world, and increased consumption of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the US, which he said, “should be taken seriously”. His response came after criticism from US Representative María Elvira Salazar (R-FL), who questioned President Biden’s decision to suspend satellite monitoring of coca crops in Colombia, which was first reported by Colombian daily El Tiempo on 11 July, causing outrage among several Republican lawmakers. According to a report by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), released on 14 July, cocaine production in Colombia decreased from 994 tonnes (t) in 2020 to 972t in 2021, the highest of the three major coca producing countries, with Peru and Bolivia being the other two. According to the report, Colombia also had the largest cultivated area for coca, with 234,000 hectares (ha) reported in 2021, a decrease from the previous year’s 245,000ha.

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