WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Coca and Development in the Andes

Forced eradication campaigns in the Andes, strongly backed by the U.S. government, harm and punish people who are the poorest, most vulnerable link in the illicit drug production chain. These policies—including aerial herbicide spraying or “fumigation”—have generated conflict, instability, and human rights violations. In Colombia, they are rarely paired with desperately needed services, and may in fact violate the historic peace accord. Because they are so out of step with rural realities, they have utterly failed to reduce coca and cocaine supplies after more than 35 years. For nearly three decades, WOLA has worked to promote an alternative approach based on economic development and state presence, to decrease poor farmers’ reliance on crops determined to be illicit. WOLA also supports efforts to remove the prohibitions in international conventions on coca leaf that impede using the plant for traditional purposes and legal consumer products.