State Presence Is Key to Crushing Drug Trafficking in the VRAEM
The effective presence of the Armed Forces in the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM) is fundamental in order to win terrain from drug traffickers, Carmen Masías, the chair of Peru’s National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (Devida), declared on July 29.
Nevertheless, after attending a session of her country’s Congress of the Republic, the Peruvian drug czar explained to the environmental news service InfoRegión that it is also of primordial importance to improve the conditions of the VRAEM population. Masías referred specifically to the availability of basic services such as water, sewers, electricity, and phone service in rural areas and to the importance of promoting alternative crops to coca. “In this way, the population’s trust will be won, and illicit activities will be combated efficiently,” she stated.
Masías also mentioned that a greater state presence should go hand-in-hand with the “connectivity” of the towns, for which reason she considered it vitally important to invest in building roads and hospitals.
During an exclusive interview granted to Diálogo on July 27, Admiral José Cueto Aservi, the head of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command, also insisted that the activity carried out by Military personnel in combating drug trafficking in his country should be backed by other actions.
Admiral Cueto Aservi, who traveled to Colombia to participate in the South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC), organized by the U.S. Southern Command, suggested the need to create a regional body that can enable cooperation among local, national, and international organizations. “All of us [the countries] need to come together in an organization where the only shared issue is organized crime (…) I don’t see any other way, if we’re not going to keep on with the same thing … because if we’re talking about the fact that there have been 120,000 tons of drugs moved, and it’s only been possible to seize 20,000, we still have a lot of work to do,” Adm. Cueto Aservi said.