FARC and Colombia Reach Accord on Drugs

The peace talks between FARC and Colombia reached a new milestone this week, with a partial agreement on drug trafficking.

Under the agreement, FARC pledges to end its involvement in the drug trade and Colombia promises to develop a strategy to combat corruption associated with drug trafficking and to stop eradicating farmer's coca plants and instead focus on alternative crop programs (except where communities refuse to participate in alternative programs or violate the agreement.[More...]

Here's FARC's statement on the accord and a related press release:

That these policies will give a special treatment to the weakest links in the value chain of drug trafficking, i.e. the growers and consumers of illicit drugs, and they will strengthen efforts to dismantle criminal organizations.

That the policy must maintain the recognition of old and traditional uses of the coca leaf, as part of the cultural identity of the indigenous community and the possibility of the use of illicit crops for medical and scientific purposes and other lawful uses to be established.

The specific points of agreement, according to FARC:

1. Programs for the substitution of the illicit use of crops.

The Government will create and launch a new National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of the Illicit Use of Crops - PNIS in Spanish - as part of the structural transformation of the countryside carried out by the Comprehensive Rural Reform, and in order to generate material as well as intangible well-being and good living conditions for the population that has been affected by the illicit use of crops, particularly for rural communities in poverty which now derive their livelihood from these crops.

2. Programs for the prevention of consumption and public health.

We agreed that the Government will create the National Comprehensive Intervention Program regarding Illicit Drug Consumption as a high-level body to articulate institutions with competence in the field and coordinate a participatory process of review, adjustment and implementation of consumption policies.

National policy regarding illicit drug consumption will have a focus on human rights and public health, a differential and gender approach. It will be evidence-based and it will be built and implemented with community participation.

...We also agreed to design and implement a National System of Support to the Consumers of Illicit Drugs, which should include complementary actions of rehabilitation and social integration.

3. Solution to the phenomenon of production and trafficking of narcotics (and political corruption).

The Government will implement a strategy of criminal policy, in parallel with the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to combat corruption. The policy should strengthen and qualify the presence and institutional effectiveness.

...We agreed the implementation of a new strategy against the assets involved in drug trafficking and money laundering, which includes identifying the value chain of drug trafficking through a process of crime mapping by a group of experts, formulating a new statute of preventing and combating illicit finance.

FARC says consumption and crop issues call for a different strategy than problems of organized crime involved in drug trafficking.

Here's the extent of FARC's acknowledgement it has participated in the illegal drug trade:

The commitment of the FARC-EP to effectively contribute - with the greatest determination, in different ways and through practical actions - to the solution of the problem of illicit drugs and in a scenario of the end of conflict, to end any relationship, which, in the light of rebellion, might have existed with this phenomenon.

On eradication, FARC agrees eradication is appropriate in two instances, but even then, eradication should be manual only:

In cases in which, in the framework of the agreements with the communities as part of the Program, there are growers who don't make the decision to replace illicit crops or who violate commitments without there being a fortuitous event or force majeure despite the efforts of the Program and communities to persuade them, the Government will proceed with manual eradication, after a process of socialization and information with the communities.

In cases where there is no agreement with the communities, the Government will proceed with the eradication of illicit crops. Priority will be given to manual eradication whenever possible, taking into account the respect for human rights, environment and living conditions. The FARC-EP considers that whenever eradication is necessary, it should be manual.

The reason the agreement is "partial" is because both sides agreed at the outset that there must be agreement on all points of the peace talks agenda. Drugs is the fourth point on the agenda. Agreement was reached earlier on two other points, Comprehensive agricultural development policy and Political Participation. The full list of points on the agenda is here. FARC's original proposal and demands on illicit drug trafficking are here.

We recall that one of the principles guiding the talks is that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". This means that the agreements that are made are conditioned to a pact on the entire Agenda and they can be adjusted and complemented.

The agreement is considered critical to the re-election of Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos who has been slipping in recent polls. One of the key promises of his candidacy has been the success of the peace talks, which began in 2012. The elections is May 25.

Both FARC and the smaller guerrilla group ELN have agreed to a cease-fire for the elections.

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