nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

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Alan
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nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby Alan » Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:08 pm

Very good article on the topic of coca cultivation in Peru.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world ... 4peru.html

One of the quotes seems to sum up the whole article:

“The struggle against coca can resemble detaining the wind,” said Gen. Juan Zárate, who leads the country’s coca eradication campaigns.


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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby rgamarra » Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:31 pm

I understand that coca is one of the base ingredients for making cocaine (which is a very complex and synthetic process btw), but if the (Peruvian) government wants to crack down on coca production for cocaine use, then they should consider regulation and not eradication...It's like trying to chase down the wind due to the remote locations where it's cultivated.

Kerosene is another main ingredient in the production of cocaine, and I know Peru has had issue with kerosene being exported to countries like Colombia for the production of illicit narcotics.

I think coca is all too often demonized. Coca and cocaine are NOT the same.

I've made my commentary before on my blog about Coca and Cocaine:

http://rachelinperu.wordpress.com/2009/ ... a-illegal/

Here's an excerpt of an essay I did for an English course:

In “The Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of Peru”, published in 1609 by El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, the coca leaf was described as 'one of the grandest riches of Peru, because with it great commerce is conducted...and the Spaniards have used its properties in medicine.' Garcilaso also observed that the Incas regarded the coca leaf as more valuable than 'gold, silver and precious stone.' Andean shamans used the leaf to divine the future and make offerings to their gods, however the Spanish considered the shamanistic use of the leaf as anti-Catholic and strongly considered its prohibition to bring the Indians into religious conformity. Yet one thing remained certain during this period, the coca leaf was culturally, medically and commercially an integral part of Latin American society.


Out of the 200 coca leaf species, only 17 can be used to make cocaine; and turning coca into cocaine is a complex, dangerous process that requires the use of sophisticated equipment and harsh chemicals. These chemicals include kerosene, acetone, sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid to name a few.


...It was German chemist, Friedrich Gaedcke, that discovered the method to isolate the cocaine alkaloid from the coca leaf in 1855; an alkaloid used in the 19th and 20th centuries as an ingredient in tonics and elixirs, such as John Pemberton's original Coca-Cola, to treat a wide variety of physical ailments. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, however, would be the first government mis-classification of cocaine as a narcotic substance and consequentially prohibit its commerce in the United States. The proceeding Controlled Substances Act of 1970 would be the final nail in the coffin for the plant, effectively outlawing cocaine's use.


Basically put, not all cocaine is created equal. You have cocaine the naturally occurring alkaloid and cocaine the synthetic narcotic.
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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby Alan » Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:05 pm

rgamarra wrote:
Kerosene is another main ingredient in the production of cocaine, and I know Peru has had issue with kerosene being exported to countries like Colombia for the production of illicit narcotics.


The government has restricted the sale of kerosene in the jungle, which besides being an important part of the processing of cocaine, kills streams and ponds. There are lots of environmental arguments against the informal/illegal of cocaine paste processing.


rgamarra wrote:I think coca is all too often demonized. Coca and cocaine are NOT the same.


Of course you are right about this, but the fact is that 90% of the leaf goes to make cocaine, so if you want to reduce supply, eradication is a logical part of the effort, since reducing demand doesn´t seem to work, and since it seems to be impossible to stop the cross-border trade in the stuff.

Then again.. governments could just de-criminalize cocaine and other hard drugs and redirect the billions of dollars spent on fighting what appears to be a losing war on the drug trade to educational and rehab programs.
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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby Kelly » Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:25 pm

Then again.. governments could just de-criminalize cocaine and other hard drugs and redirect the billions of dollars spent on fighting what appears to be a losing war on the drug trade to educational and rehab programs.


qft.
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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby craig » Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:27 pm

Alan wrote:... so if you want to reduce supply, eradication is a logical part of the effort, since reducing demand doesn´t seem to work, and since it seems to be impossible to stop the cross-border trade in the stuff.

It may not be diplomatic to say so, but that is only "logical" to economic illiterates (ie. most of the world's population).

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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby Alan » Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:42 pm

craig wrote:
Alan wrote:... so if you want to reduce supply, eradication is a logical part of the effort, since reducing demand doesn´t seem to work, and since it seems to be impossible to stop the cross-border trade in the stuff.

It may not be diplomatic to say so, but that is only "logical" to economic illiterates (ie. most of the world's population).

Craig


Not sure if I follow you, but suppose you mean that reducing supply will lead to a rise in prices, resulting in more, not less cultivation? If so.. I would tend to agree with you, though there must be a breaking point for drug users where one drug becomes expensive relative to other alternatives, like heroin.

Anyway.. eradication is simply not working. As an anecdotal aside, I just had breakfast with a young guy who spends a lot of time in the jungle. He is from there, and has even worked picking the stuff. He tells me that he is beginning to see cocaine consumption in the jungle, something that you never really saw before. People just produced the stuff, and didn´t consume it.

Just another price Peru is paying for being a producing nation.
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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby iskndarbey » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:26 pm

rgamarra wrote:I understand that coca is one of the base ingredients for making cocaine (which is a very complex and synthetic process btw), but if the (Peruvian) government wants to crack down on coca production for cocaine use, then they should consider regulation and not eradication...It's like trying to chase down the wind due to the remote locations where it's cultivated.

I think coca is all too often demonized. Coca and cocaine are NOT the same.

Basically put, not all cocaine is created equal. You have cocaine the naturally occurring alkaloid and cocaine the synthetic narcotic.


Yeah, but that's kind of a red herring given that ~%5 of current production would be more than sufficient to meet all the Andes' coca needs. More than 95% of the harvest is turned into cocaine.
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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby tupacperu » Sun Jun 20, 2010 7:53 am

War on Coke (drugs) is a joke. There is no incentive to win. Peru and Colombia put in an effort so that they can collect millions in US aid. SHould they eradicate or make coca leaves illegal it would affect the aid they recieve and affect up to 5% of Peru's GDP (negatively).

Watched a program the other day about Colombia, where thogram was military and para-miltary were killing young (military age) boys and planting weapons on the bodies and calling them terrorists. This is becasue the CIA and US Gov 't were paying rewards per head in Colombia. (program was in spanish). Again if money is the incentive (with coke), then this is a case of the dog chasing it's tale.
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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby Alan » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:23 am

Great article on page two of El Comercio today. Among other points, it mentions two that I thought were particularly interesting:

Coca is dried in ovens in Columbia, but in the sun in Peru, so the humidity levels of the dried leaves are different, as is the weight. This means that when this is taken into account, Columbia really does produce more coca leaf than Peru.

The other important note is that while in Columbian President Uribe took a personal interest in the war on producers and traffickers, so 203 tons of coca paste was seized, compared to a mere 10 tons in Peru. The pressure brought to bear on the Columbian traffickers means that a great many are moving to friendlier climes in Peru... the so-called "bubble effect".
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Re: nyt article Coca in Peru Makes Comeback

Postby scott » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:45 am

The coca thing has been a back and forth forever between Columiba and Peru. There was a massive push in the late 90's in Peru, forcing the focus of production to Columbia. It is cyclical and will continue as long as there is demand for the product.

According to the most recent UN report, cocaine use has more than doubled in the EU and dropped significantly in the US.

"People snorting coke in Europe are killing the pristine forests of the Andean countries and corrupting governments in West Africa", UNODC director Antonio Maria Costa said.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/10394096.stm

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also found that cocaine consumption has fallen significantly in the US in recent years. But the number of cocaine users in Europe has doubled, it says.
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