The Republic of Colombia remains the world leader in growing coca, the main plant ingredient for cocaine. Right now, the local authorities are returning to their long-time plans to manually eradicate coca plantations — and things have already turned deadly.
The country is currently under the COVID-19 lockdown. But regardless of that, the militia is moving over the countryside in large groups, accompanied by the police. The growers, who now more than ever depend on coca cultivation, confront them. So far, at least three growers have died in clashes with the authorities, Al Jazeera reported on May 8th.
World health and human rights organizations also demand the Colombian government cease the coca eradication operations because of the pandemic. Catatumbo region already has the first cases of COVID-19, said Juan Carlos Quintero of the Catatumbo Growers Organization in his interview with Al Jazeera. It all began when the coca crop eradicators from the outer regions arrived in the area.
The Colombian Defense Ministry, however, claims that it will not stop the operations since strict health control and quarantines were implemented for the soldiers and civilians.