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The Coca Trap

Non-Narcos: Colombia’s coca growers fight for legal alternative to their trade

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Many people living in rural Colombia depend on harvesting coca leaf for a living. “No one wants to do this, but circumstances force us,” they say. Things became even harder for coca farmers once the Colombian government signed a peace deal with FARC rebels. As part of the agreement, coca farmers have been told to eradicate their cash crop in exchange for financial aid and technical support in switching to legal crops. 

The Coca Trap. Colombia's coca growers can't abandon their illegal trade
“If prices were higher for sugar cane or molasses, I wouldn't work with coca,” one of the peasants says, a sentiment shared by many coca growers.

In reality, all the money never reaches the farmers’ pockets, while the army destroys the coca plantations. With no other means for income, farmers continue to cultivate coca, clashing with police and calling for the government to fulfil its end of the bargain.

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