More coca plants are growing in Colombia than ever before. Just because the country’s war with FARC is over doesn’t mean that farmers aren’t growing coca and processing the leaves into coca paste. Why would they do this? It’s a question of money ... farmers can sell a pound of paste for more than they can sell a ton of corn. Most of the produced cocaine is still making its way to the U.S. (the world’s biggest consumer of the illicit drug). This image depicts cocaine drug packs which the U.S. DEA (drug enforcement agency) confiscated.


The story of Pablo Escobar's death filled front-page newspapers and prime-time television. At last, some people thought, cocaine trafficking will be drastically curtailed or stopped altogether.

Wishful thinking, that.

When Escobar was killed, and his Medellin organization crumbled, the Cali cartel filled the vacuum. When the Cali cartel was dismantled, smaller organizations and individuals stepped to the plate.

Battles between Colombia's government and armed rebels—known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—made the situation in Colombia even worse. A very well-funded organization, FARC has historically made money based on the drug trade, as the BBC reports:

Colombia is one of the main producers of cocaine and the rebels get a large part of their income from drug trafficking or levying "taxes" on those who do. 

Colombia is trying to replace coca crops with fresh-flower crops. Six out of every ten cut flowers sold in America come from Colombia. But as long as the world demands what Colombian coca growers and processors supply, how reasonable is it to say an end is in sight?

On the other hand, a very positive development occurred in August of 2016. After years of negotiations, including two years of secret talks, the Colombian government and the FARC rebels reached a peace accord. During 52 years of fighting, which claimed the lives of about 260,000 people and displaced millions more, the war between them is finally over. In a joint statement, both sides said:

The Colombian government and the Farc announce that we have reached a final, full and definitive accord.

People throughout the country are hopeful that this development will transform the gloomy forecast into a much more positive future for all Colombians. As Rodrigo Granada, one of FARC's negotiators said (in a tweet):

There is no room for winners or losers when you achieve peace through negotiations. Colombia wins, death loses.

Not everyone agrees, however, that this deal is right for Colombia.

Colombian voters disapproved the accord when they voted in a national election on October 2, 2016. Following that defeat, negotiators struck a different deal which did not require a national referendum to approve the terms. Colombia's Congress approved the peace agreement on November 30, 2016.

For his efforts in negotiating an end to the half-century war in his country, Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia's President) received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Significant portions of Frontline's PBS production,  "Drug Wars,"  are available at the PBS web site.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jul 04, 2019

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"A GLOOMY FORECAST" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2001. Jan 19, 2020.
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