Take physic, pomp

Ecuador, coca grower

Firstly, check out that above map which reminds us that Ecuador is a country stuck between the world’s largest cocaine producer (Colombia, approx 60% of world production) and the world’s second largest cocaine producer (Peru, approx 30% of world production).

Secondly, keep in mind that the geography of The Andes mountain range doesn’t suddenly just stop at the border with Peru and start up again when Ecuador becomes Colombia. That’s to say that the ideal conditions to grow coca exist as much in Ecuador as in its neighbours.

Once the context is understood, plus the fact that Ecuador is a poor country by any world standard, it’s quite remarkable how Ecuador has managed to avoid the scourge of illegal coca farming and even more illegal cocaine manufacture all this time. Although used as a trafficking route (check that map again, as you hardly need Einstein on the case) Ecuador is not coca country, period. From this, basic common sense draws us to the conclusion that Ecuador is doing something that both its neighbours could learn from, n’est pas?

This is why this report caught my eye this week. So far this March, Ecuadorian army patrols have found and decomissioned two small coca plantations inside their own borders. Both were around one hectare in size and both were found in the San Lorenzo district that, surprise surprise, borders Colombia.

Of course, two hectares is nothing compared to the 99,000 hectares under coca production in Colombia, according to the UN in its recent report. But it does suggest that while the brutish armed forces of Colombia are unable to control its country and its coca problem despite the near U$7Bn that it’s been gifted by the USA this decade to combat the trade, the poor and relatively ignored Ecuador is totally on top of the situation, successfully patrolling its border regions and out there quite literally nipping the problem in the bud. But in this upsidedown world in which we live, Colombia will continue gathering gringo plaudits despite allowing its cocaine production to rise 50% in the last four years. The US military aides insists that they’re not losing in Colombia, by the way. I can only assume it’s the same way they didn’t lose in Viet Nam.

There comes a point when you have to wonder why and whether the DEA really does have a secret agenda as the conspiracy theorists insist.

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