'We are not drug traffickers, we are Colombian peasants'

The voices and history of cocaleros in Colombia
Immature cocaine (coca) plant - Colombia

Coca growers are best placed in design and implement strategies aimed at enbaling them to tranisition from coca growing to other forms of agricultural production. So argue Ityosara Rojas Herrera and Joost Dessein in their latest article in Geoforum

Drugs and development policies lack a historical and political economy perspective. This has led to a situation where issues of everyday state-making and agrarian conflicts are ignored. Alternative frameworks that incorporate these elements do not go beyond mere procedural participation.

This is also the case with Colombia's Comprehensive Plan for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (‘PNIS’), resulting from the recent 2016 peace agreement. Through ethnographic work and content analysis of coca growers' demands, the authors demonstrate how coca growers are the ones who best understand the historical reasons that led them to participate in this economy and, therefore, who can most clearly design and implement transition strategies in drugs and development policies.

In addition to history and political economy, alternative approaches must draw on the experiences of those who have suffered from state-building processes.

Read the full article online - ‘We are not Drug Traffickers, We are Colombian Peasants’: The voices and history of cocaleros in the substitution programme of illicit crops in Colombia Geoforum Volume 141, May 2023

PhD student
Assistant professor
Dr Joost Dessein
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