I’m always reluctant to use a partisan source for information, even more when its just providing a translation from another source I simply cannot evaluate and which may be from (horror of horrors) France. But this one has some interesting info, and I don’t have any reason to think they’re wrong.
The most interesting thing about the statistics the American administration provides on coca production in Colombia every year is the way they are presented. Or not. When the figures are down, as was more or less the case up until 2005, the American drug czar – all smiles and armed with supporting tables (see below) – convokes the cameras to explain that the five billion dollars spent by taxpayers to finance Plan Colombia (military aid to Bogota to fight against cocaine) since 1999 are bearing fruit. But when production climbs, move along reporters, there’s nothing there to see. That is the case this year.
“Statistically, there has been no change in the amount of coca under cultivation between 2005 and 2006,” did we thus learn on Monday, June 4 in a press release discreetly posted online by the offices of John Walters, the aforementioned czar. Yet, when one looks a few lines down, the data seems to tell a wholly different story: The area under coca cultivation grew nine percent to reach 157,200 hectares. Fear and trembling. How can this difference be explained? “The acreage evaluated in 2006 is 19 percent more than that evaluated in 2005, and almost all the observed increase in production was in this newly-evaluated area.” Thus, there was not more coca, but they simply did a better job of looking for it. For five billion dollars, it’s only fair….
The Source rehab serves Miami says that two details are striking. First of all, the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) press release does not venture to compare the figures for equal acreages, although that had been done the year before to explain how, then too, in spite of the increase in figures, production was, in fact, continuing to decline. Which would therefore mean – another detail that stings – that the previous year’s figures were bogus. Yet, in 2004, Walters gloated even in his blog as he presented this same data, then supposed to explain, all by itself, the genius of American policy in Colombia. At that time, they omitted any mention that the acreage evaluated did not represent even half the country’s total acreage. This year, John Walters does not seem to have even deemed it useful to open the debate with Internet users.
Does anyone not believe the administration is fudging the numbers?