Drugs and Conflict in Peru

17 November 2005


Drugs and Conflict in Peru

Area map

Peru is the second largest coca and cocaine producer in the Andean region. Though cultivation of coca is not a criminal offence according to national law, peasant families are regularly subject to forced eradication and persecution by government agencies. The heritage of state corruption, including many links to the drugs business and organised crime especially under the previous Fujimori/Montesinos regime, still persists. Efforts on the part of government institutions in charge of drug control to develop autonomous and sovereign policies to resolve problems around coca leaf production and drug trafficking are under enormous pressure from the USA.

Political divisions and strife, with more than a decade of armed conflict and human rights violations still fresh in the minds of Peruvians, seem hard to overcome. The formation of a national coca peasant organisation has now started a process of political articulation difficult to ignore. A community of experts and academics is actively engaged in public and policy debates to make positive changes possible. Other efforts to reform state structures and to counter wide-spread corruption are underway. Hopeful signs about progress in the building of democracy are under pressure from rising social tensions triggered by forced eradication operations, however.

TNI on Drugs and Conflict in Peru

  • Hugo Cabieses Coca and Drugs. A Human, Political and Technical Issue TNI Website, 22 June 2005
  • Ricardo Soberón Garrido Opinion: The Coca Ordinance TNI Website, 19 June 2005
  • Broken Promises And Coca Eradication In Peru
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing 11, March 2005
    The forced crop eradication policy implemented by the Peruvian government over the past 25 years has failed. The official strategy has exacerbated social conflicts; contributed to various types of subversive violence; jeopardized local economies, also affecting the national economy; and destroyed forests as crops have become more scattered. Worst of all, it has not resolved any of the underlying causes of drug trafficking, such as poverty, marginalisation and government neglect.
  • Cover Coca or Death?Coca or Death? Cocalero movements in Peru and Bolivia
    TNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Papers 10, April 2004
    This issue of Drugs and Conflict analyses cocalero peasant organisations in Peru and Bolivia and their interaction with successive governments during the peasant mobilisations of recent years. The achievements and failures of such negotiations expose the difficulty in finding peaceful and sustainable solutions to an issue as intricate as the cultivation of coca leaf.
  • Coca, Cocaine and the International Conventions
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing 5, April 2003
    It is no understatement to claim that there are few plants subject to such tensions as the coca leaf, either in legal and political circuits, or in the medical and anthropological academic world. Before, during and after its inclusion in the number 1 list of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the controversy on whether the coca leaf is or is not to be considered a narcotic drug, worthy of control by the international institutions and mechanisms, reached apparent irreconcilable positions.
  • Peru: From Virtual Success to Realistic Policies?
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing 3, April 2002
    The Peruvian government has become the victim of the false image of success of its drug control policies it launched at the end of the 1990's. A 'virtual' success that has directed international donor attention and support to countries considered more troublesome, such as Colombia and Bolivia. The international community needs to recognise the reasons for Peru's so-called success proving unsustainable and to help the country design and draft a more effective anti-drug strategy. Peru could set an example of what can be achieved through the application of a different drug control model. Such a model would steer clear of forced eradication, apply repressive measures only in relation to organised crime, and would have at its centre a rural development strategy negotiated with the communities themselves.
  • Ricardo Soberón Drug Trafficking in Peru. The Scenario for 1998 Peru Solidarity Forum, Bulletin 21, March 1998
  • Ricardo Soberón The Armed Forces and the Drug War. Between Garrisons, "Caletas" and Borders in Democracy, Human Rights and Militarism in the War on Drugs in Latin America, TNI/Acción Andina, April 1997
  • Ricardo Soberón The War on Cocaine in Peru. From Cartagena to San Antonio WOLA Briefing Series: Issues in International Drug Policy, August 1992



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