The Catholic University of Quito was the venue for a meeting where problems were analyzed by the inhabitants of the border area of Ecuador and Colombia. Experts agreed that hundreds of families are forced to perform irregular activities to earn money, including planting the plant.
Added to this are practices such as illegal mining and drug trafficking, experts concluded at a seminar at the Catholic University (PUCE), held in recent days. “Drug, Border and Economy” was the meeting that brought together analysts from Ecuador and Colombia who discussed the scenarios that occur in this area, especially after the signing of peace between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Felipe Tascón, researcher on issues of illicit crops in Colombia, explained that sowing, mainly of the coca leaf, is not only a police problem but also an economic one. Hence the need to know four fundamental reasons why the crop is produced in large quantities.
In the first place, it is a plantation of great rotation: a producer can harvest four crops a year. According to Tascón, in Colombia there are areas near Sucumbíos that obtain up to six harvests in 12 months.
Second: the coca is processed in the field or farms, because the leaf rots 72 hours after harvest.
The third is that its volume can be reduced up to 30,000 times and its weight drops up to 500 times. “That is a great advantage because you can take the goods out of hard-to-reach areas. A whole crop of coca can be moved in a backpack. ”
The fourth reason is the global demand. “In the last three decades the product had a stable price, since the FARC regulated the value that was between $ 500 and $ 700 per kilo of base paste.” However, after the FARC left their weapons, the sale of that merchandise became chaotic. “At present, 60% more than before,” according to the farmers. Tascón warned that in Ecuador this problem is not massive, but there are areas that can be easily vulnerable due to the proximity to the Colombian inhabitants and he admitted that there are Ecuadorians who come to his country to plant the plant.
Pedro Páez Pérez, director of the Institute of Economic Research of the PUCE, concluded that the population of these localities is the victim of a “savage capitalism”. That is, a free market economy that has generated inequality.
This situation forces the population to economic temptations posed by drug trafficking and that, however, does not remove them from their poverty. According to the expert, this is reflected in other practices, such as illegal mining and wood that generates the disappearance of animal protein suppliers, such as guanta or tapir.
“The lack of infrastructure, of employment leave subsistence conditions below.” This situation was noticed by Pablo Iturralde, director of the Tierra Nueva Foundation, who pointed out that farmers prefer to plant coca. The principal said that a day laborer earns between $ 8 and $ 15 for working the land.
In Colombia, he earns up to $ 50 to harvest those plants. This occurs because Ecuador has a border of about 600 kilometers with Colombia and borders with Nariño and Putumayo, the departments where there are more crops, said Prof. Adrián Bonilla. The expert said that an important load of cocaine and heroin derivatives circulate through Ecuador, which are between 600 and 650 metric tons a year. Bonilla said that -according to police estimates- about 10% of what is circulating is captured. “Ecuador is in the articulation of drug trafficking policy, since transit countries are always exposed to violence,” said Bonilla. (I)