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[VIDEO] Peru's Cocaine War: Traffickers vs. Farmers

December 23, 2011 ·

The government of Peru is getting tough on traffickers and encouraging farmers to plant alternative crops, but will it work?

Peru has now overtaken Colombia as the largest cocaine exporter in the world. Some regions produce huge quantities of coca leaves and coca paste - which is then turned into pure cocaine destined for Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Until recently, the government did very little to tackle the problem - making Peru an obvious choice for drug traffickers looking to move from Colombia, where they were hunted by the police and US-backed troops. 

At times, the government tried a policy of eradication - that is the forced elimination of coca crops by burning or spraying them with chemicals. But many consider this strategy a failure because farmers found other plots of land for coca production.

However, the government of Ollanta Humala, Peru's new president, is taking a different approach to tackling the problem: getting tough on traffickers and encouraging farmers to grow other crops instead of coca.

Inside Story Americas discusses with guests: Luis Del Valle, a journalist and filmmaker; Kevin Casas-Zamora, the former vice president of Costa Rica; and Sanho Tree, the director for the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and an expert on the 'war on drugs'.

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