Global Counter Drug Policy, Key in the FARC Peace Process

By Dialogo
October 18, 2012

The fight against drug trafficking, one of the main components in the negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC is undergoing an international – or at least regional – decriminalization, probably due to risking new strategies, such as including guerrillas in combat, according to analysts.

The quest for a “solution” to the drug problem is one of the five goals set by Juan Manuel Santos’ government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the peace process that is about to start in Norway.

“It would be beneficial for the Colombian process to find a regional solution that includes the United States. It would also be beneficial to decriminalize consumption,” said Benedicte Bull, Norwegian researcher at the Centre for Development and the Environment.

This coincides with the plans proposed by Santos, who, along with Mexico and Guatemala, asked for a new global counter drug strategy at the UN in September.

In April, the Organization of American States (OAS) requested a study to generate alternatives in the so called war against drugs, which has left hundreds of thousands dead from the violence of mafias.

Because drug trafficking involves the trading of illicit substances, its nature generates violence, organized crime and corruption.

In fact, the FARC are partly funded from forcing coca growers to pay them taxes, although they are not the only ones.

“Even though the FARC always appear as the main actors in the primary production and trading of illicit drugs, there are other parties involved in this business,” Saúl Mauricio Rodríguez Hernández, historian and expert on military relations at Colombia’s National University told AFP.

Therefore, even if the FARC agree to disarm, it doesn’t mean that the trade will end. It may actually “spread, and production may fall in the hands of small cartels or mafias and spin out of control.”

Rodríguez Hernández considers, therefore, “that the strategy is to try to involve the FARC with the tentative fight against drug trafficking,” even though this would signify a minor fix, because any tactic, even crop eradication “must go hand in hand with an international dialogue about the decriminalization of hard drugs. I don’t see any other option,” he assured.