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August 2005
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New market for Colombian cocaine

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In addition to the amnesty program for the big traffickers, Colombia has instituted a cash for coca program in one region of the country. Farmers can take their plants to the police and get cash on the spot for them.
Sort of like a government subsidy to grow coca.

Rebels in the region typically traffic in the coca to finance their armed struggle against the Colombian government. Mr. Uribe said recent military operations have forced the rebels into hiding, leaving the farmers without buyers.

The program has come under harsh criticism from lawmakers such as Colombian Sen. Rafael Pardo, who said it would encourage small farmers to grow more coca just so they could sell it to the government, a guaranteed and steady paying customer.

Mr. Pardo — who is a likely presidential candidate in next year’s elections — and other critics say farmers will find ways to continue cultivating illegal crops and selling them to the government, the rebels or right-wing paramilitaries that also produce cocaine for income, or all three.

Of course, Uribe sees this as a wonderful way to eradicate some of the crop!
Aren’t any of these political leaders required to take an economics course at some time in their lives? I admit that I slept through a lot of the classes myself, but I understand supply and demand (even elasticity), and can see a price support when it hits me in the face.
Of course, Uribe counters by noting that the farmers must “sign a legally binding agreement to halt cultivation.” Ah, that solves it. So growing coca is against the law, but if you do break the law, you can take the coca to the police and get paid for it, but then you must agree not to break the law or you’ll be in violation of your agreement not to break the law.
Right.

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