A recent article by Jaime Antezana draws attention to the linkages between drug manufacture, corruption and the ongoing presence of terrorist organisations in places like the VRAEM (Valleys of the Rivers Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro) on the borders between Cuzco and Ayacucho regions. His article is forcefully put, but – despite his clear point of view – is worth sharing with readers of the PSG newsletter.

Antezana, an expert on drug matters, points to the lull in coca eradication in the last year. The 2018 UNODC report published in December shows that coca acreages grew by 14% in the previous year (2017) and that eradication efforts have been virtually non-existent in the VRAEM where most of Peru’s coca is cultivated and where much of its cocaine originates.

He argues that fighting corruption is unlikely to be successful when drug trafficking (the source of much corruption) is not addressed. Nor will drug trafficking be reduced without more resolute efforts to stem the growth of coca growing. The problem in the VRAEM, he argues, is that the army, which is supposedly there to combat the insurgency, is in cahoots with the drug traffickers on the ground. He describes them as ‘narco-militares’.

Meanwhile he points to the uncontrolled expansion of coca growing in other parts of the country, a point corroborated by the UNODC report.