WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Vicious Cycle: Forced Crop Eradication and the Never-Ending War on Drugs

10:30 AM EDT Thursday, 5 August 2021

Join the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) for the following discussion on forced crop eradication, the second event in the series Decades of Damage Done: The Drug War Catastrophe in Latin America and the Caribbean:

One of the central strategies—and spectacular failures—of the “war on drugs” has been forced crop eradication as a method to reduce illicit drug supplies and availability. Such programs have been deployed with heavy U.S. backing in Latin America since the 1970s despite violating fundamental human rights and generating severe social conflict, while raising major health and environmental concerns.

Evidence shows that forced crop eradication fails to reduce cultivation or affect the profitability of drug markets worldwide. Instead, the policy pushes tens of thousands of families deeper into poverty and even greater reliance on illegal crops for their survival. Rural communities, abandoned by states and lacking social services, are left with few viable economic alternatives. Forced eradication in the absence of alternative livelihoods violates people’s right to live free from hunger, and clashes with the rights of Indigenous communities to practice their cultural traditions that involve coca, opium poppy and cannabis.

Forced crop eradication also brings steep environmental and health risks. A growing number of studies warn that glyphosate, the chemical used in aerial spray operations known as fumigation, may correlate with increased cases of cancer, miscarriages, and skin and respiratory disorders.

A lesson of the past 50 years is that forced eradication, whether through aerial spraying or on the ground, cannot substitute for a functioning, low-impunity state presence in impoverished rural areas. A narrow fixation on reducing crop acreage has, after decades, failed to reduce illicit crops by even an acre, while exacting an incalculable toll in human suffering.

Please join WOLA for the second installment in a six-part series of webinars examining the consequences of prohibition and the drug war for Latin America and the Caribbean, and identifying alternative approaches consistent with protecting human rights and achieving social justice.


Event Details:

Thursday, August 5, 2021

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EDT



Pedro Arenas

Corporación Viso Mutop


Roxana Argandoña

Quechua Coca Farmer and Union Leader


Abel Barrera

Tlachinollan Human Rights Center


Aida Quilcué

Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC




Adam Isacson

Director for Defense Oversight, WOLA

Simultaneous interpretation will be available on Zoom only.

This event will be livestreamed on WOLA’s YouTube page.