One of the world's top cocaine producers, Colombia, has been battling drug-funded leftist rebels and powerful gangs for decades, but billions of dollars in drugs still leave the nation each year despite a decade-long U.S.-backed security crackdown.

The area planted with coca increased 3 percent to 64,000 hectares (158,147 acres) in 2011 versus the previous year, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in its yearly report on Colombia's drug business.

Despite the increase, production of cocaine decreased 1 percent last year to 345 tonnes versus 2010, which the United Nations attributed to lower productivity.

The figures will likely give fodder to political rivals of President Juan Manuel Santos, especially former President Alvaro Uribe, who want to paint Santos as out of touch with security problems on the ground. In 2010, Santos succeeded Uribe, who was barred by the constitution from running for a third term.

"It will certainly add fuel to the fire of the Uribistas, who are relentlessly criticizing Santos," said Cynthia Arnson, Latin American program director at the Woodrow Wilson Center.


Original article here.