Tomorrow, the Wall Street Journal reports, the White House will release its estimate of how much coca was planted in Colombia in 2016.
695 square miles is 180,000 hectares. This would be the highest U.S. measurement of Colombian coca cultivation ever.
On the other hand, it would represent the smallest increase in Colombian coca-growing in three years.
180,000 hectares is just 13 percent greater than the 159,000 the U.S. government measured in 2015. That’s robust growth, but lower than I had expected. It’s nothing like the 42 percent increase from 2014-2015 or the 39 percent increase that preceded that (2013-2014).
(The data comes from the Obama White House’s legacy website.)
Amid reports that coca-growers in the Catatumbo region are burying their coca paste instead of selling it amid a price collapse, we may be seeing a glut in the coca market that could discourage new planting. If there’s a glut, though, traffickers may be actively seeking new markets, in the United States and elsewhere.