The University of Arizona

Contested natures: Coca, the War on Drugs, and ecologies of difference in Colombia's Afro-Pacific

Alexander Huezo


While there is growing consensus that the 'war on drugs' has failed to decrease drug consumption in the Global North, we know much less about how drug production has impacted communities of the Global South. This is particularly true for the cultivation of coca leaf in Colombia, which is increasingly planted in isolated rural areas such as national parks and in the collectively titled lands of ethnic communities (indigenous and Afro-descendant) where it is both difficult to detect and to eradicate. This article explains how Afro-descendant communities in Colombia have resisted both coca cultivation and a controversial war on drugs strategy to eliminate coca –aerial eradication –  through a framework of ecological difference. It also explores why political ecologists can be important allies in this struggle and in the greater context of socio-environmental justice for rural communities in the Global South. 

Key Words: rural, ethnic, difference, war, coca, Colombia

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