Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy

By CamiloAcero and DianaMachuca

In 2016 the Colombian government and the country’s most important guerrilla group – the FARC – signed a peace agreement that included the ‘definitive solution to the problem of illicit crops’. That solution has not arrived.

We tracked the design and implementation of the substitution program (PNIS) included in the peace agreement using an original set of in-depth interviews, press reviews and archival material, all of which were collected in different rounds of fieldwork between 2018 and 2020 in Bogotá and three coca growing regions.

In this paper, we show that, as a product of several political pressures, the peace agreement introduced modifications to the standing policy against illicit crops that were favorable to peacebuilding, but also retained regressive aspects of that policy. However, following a shift in the balance of power, the policy returned to what it was during the war period.

We conclude by discussing the importance of developing a research agenda that explores both resistances to change in illicit crops policy, and the political coalitions needed to make change sustainable.