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NYT: Six-year, $4.7b effort to slash Colombia's coca crop has left price, quality, availability of cocaine on US streets unchanged

RAW STORY
Published: Friday August 18, 2006

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A six-year, $4.7 billion effort to slash Colombia's coca crop has done little, according to an article slated for Saturday's New York Times, RAW STORY has learned.

"The latest chapter in America’s long war on drugs — a six-year, $4.7 billion effort to slash Colombia’s coca crop — has left the price, quality and availability of cocaine on American streets virtually unchanged," reports Juan Forero for The Times.

"The effort, begun in 2000 and known as Plan Colombia, had a specific goal of halving this country’s coca crop in five years," the article continues.

"That has not happened," Forero writes. "Instead, drug policy experts say, coca, the essential ingredient for cocaine, has been redistributed to smaller and harder-to-reach plots, adding to the cost and difficulty of the drug war."

Excerpts from article:

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Bush administration officials say that coca farmers are on the run, and that the leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries who feed on drug profits are weaker than ever. That has made Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in a tumultuous region, more stable, they say. They argue that the plan has scored important successes, like a spike in the price of cocaine last year.

But that claim was disputed by a wide range of drug policy experts, and some politicians are questioning the drug war’s results as well as its assumptions.

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"If we were to evaluate Plan Colombia by its initial overriding criteria, the results of the drug war have been dubious at best," said Russell Crandall, a former adviser to the White House and the author of “Driven by Drugs,” a book on the drug war in the Andes.

"We can switch metaphors — saying it is first and 10, second and 4, light at the end of the tunnel — but what’s left are often discouraging results on reducing the amount of drugs and cocaine in the United States," he added.

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FULL TIMES ARTICLE CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK