Cablegate: Fumigation Is Working: Com's Response in Political

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) The Chief of Mission responded to press articles
challenging the success of eradication efforts in Colombia,
and calling for a change in policy in an article published
by leading political weekly Cambio on its April 11-18 issue.


"There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the recent
release of the U.S. coca and poppy cultivation estimates in
Washington, including the estimate that coca hectarage did
not change significantly in 2004 in spite of record
fumigation levels. In fact, although it would have been
nice if the hectarage numbers had also gone down, last year,
and every year for the last four years, the U.S. Colombian
effort has had great success in what really matters here:
reducing the amount of cocaine and heroin produced in

When Plan Colombia began in 2001, Colombia alone had a
potential production of an estimated 700 tons of pure
cocaine. Today that figure is 430 tons. It declined by
some 30 tons in 2004. Original goals for Plan Colombia
included reducing the supply of Colombian cocaine by 50%
over a five-year period, and we are approaching that goal.

We are also measuring more extensively. For the first time,
the estimates include coca grown in national parks. Drug
growers are destroying Colombia's natural patrimony and will
continue to do so until they can be stopped. Recent aerial
footage shows wide spread deforestation in the Sierra
Macarena, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and Choco due to
drug cultivation. In just six national parks included in
the study, there were almost 7,000 hectares of coca, and we
believe there is much more in the protected areas. Between
parks and other reserved areas, more than 10 percent of
Colombia is off limits to spraying. And the drug growers
are taking advantage of it. But we are on to them.

We are making the drug producers work harder. Because of
our successful spraying, they are having to replant coca in
record quantities and, even so, are not able to maintain
production levels. Because newly planted fields do not yield
the same production as mature fields, production levels
dropped even though hectarage did not. This is expensive
for the narcotraffickers and, we believe, ultimately
unsustainable. Drug eradication is a war of attrition
against determined, well-funded narcoterrorist
organizations; we do not expect a knock-out blow, just that
our opponent will get weaker and weaker until he disappears.

Finally, it is worth noting that, in keeping with our
increased focus on heroin in 2004, opium poppy cultivation
was reduced 52 percent, a huge success. Opium poppy
cultivation fell steeply from an estimated 4,400 hectares in
2003 to 2,100 hectares in 2004. In 2001, Colombia was the
largest producer of heroin in the hemisphere; that has not
been true for two years thanks to our bilateral efforts.

The cooperation between the United States and the military,
police, and civilian officials of Colombia is working and
will continue to work. Last year our combined efforts led
to record seizures and fumigation, and the lowest production
of both coca and opium poppy in years. This is making life
harder for the drug traffickers who spread addiction in the
U.S., and form the basis for criminal and terrorist violence
here in Colombia. Together, we will win."



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