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'Re-narcotization' feared in Colombia

Posted on September 16th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

ColombiaDespite progress in peace talks with the FARC guerillas, Colombia can't seem to escape endemic narco-violence. On Sept. 14, a street gun-battle sparked panic in the tourist district of Cartagena, the Caribbean resort city. The clash began as sicarios (hired assassins), in broad daylight, tried to kill a paramilitary honcho being held by police. The three sicarios, wearing prison guard uniforms, attempted to enter the building where Jhon Jairo Jimenez AKA "Pichi" is held under house arrest. Two assailants were wounded and apprehended, while a third escaped. Wanted for coke trafficking, Pichi turned state witness after his arrest last year, ratting out his former cohorts in the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, popularly known as "Los Urabeños." (Colombia Reports, Sept. 14)

The shoot-out came the same day Bogotá's El Colombiano newspaper ran an editorial warning of a "renarcotization" of the country after tentative gains against the cocaine economy and attendant violence. The editorial made note of recent international findings that coca cultivation has soared in Colombia over the past year. "It would be fatal to see the country again taken over by the narco-traffick and its cartels," the paper warned.

Kevin Whitaker, the US ambassador in Bogotá, contributed to this uneasy sense of deja vu by telling reporters he has been speaking with Colombian authorities about resuming the US-funded program of spraying glyphosate on coca crops. Colombia suspended the program last year, citing health risks—long a complaint of the impacted peasant communities. "The use of glyphosate is effective and safe," Whitaker assured. (El Espectador, Sept. 7)

Cross-post to High Times

 

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