Cocaine: Colombia weighs a new aerial war on drugs

With drug production soaring, Bogotá wants to revive its controversial crop-spraying programme

24 February 2021 - 20:21 By Gideon Long

On a hillside in northern Colombia, three dozen men in blue overalls toil through a field, destroying coca bushes. They work in pairs: one rams a hoe under the roots of a bush and levers it free, the other grabs the plant by its bright green leaves and wrenches it out of the ground. Ahead of them, sniffer dogs search for landmines. Around the field, heavily armed police officers stand guard in the sweltering heat.

“We can clear two and a half hectares a day,” says Andrés Bautista, as he pauses for breath and leans on his hoe. “Sometimes we have to walk for hours to get to them. At other times we have to stop while the mines are cleared. We live out here for weeks, sleeping in tents and hammocks.”..

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