Latin American Program in the News: White House says Colombia not leader in cocaine

USA TODAY, 7/30/2012

Jul 31, 2012

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Colombia is no longer the world's biggest producer of cocaine, according to the Obama administration.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, announced Monday that Colombia — the origin of much of the cocaine trafficked into the U.S.— fell behind Peru and Bolivia in production of cocaine in 2011. The latest estimate puts Colombia's production at 195 metric tons, a 25% reduction from the previous year and down from 700 metric tons in 2001.

The increase in cultivation in Colombia in the late 1990s and early 2000s had been ascribed to drug suppression efforts in Peru and Bolivia. But Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that as Colombia cracks down, Peru and Bolivia are seeing production tick up again.

Kerlikowske credits Colombia with strengthening democratic institutions, focusing on eradication, targeting drug-trafficking organizations and increased foreign investment. He also noted Americans' consumption of cocaine has dropped by 39% since 2006, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

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Original article here.

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