Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, released a proposal Tuesday that outlined their plan to decriminalize the production of coca, poppy and marijuana. This plan will be discussed as a solution to illicit drugs during ongoing peace talks between the rebel group and Colombia’s government.
The FARC’s lengthy proposed plan titled, “The National Program of the Substitution of the Illicit Uses of Coca, Poppy, or Marijuana Crops,” was described as a “special chapter of rural and agricultural reform, social-environmental reform, democracy reform, and participatory reform,” according to the statement released Tuesday morning.
This program, which was a redesigned version of a plan initially proposed in 2000 by the FARC’s late founder Manuel Marulanda, has been presented to the Colombian government’s peace delegation in Havana, Cuba where ongoing peace talks have passed their one year anniversary.
The general proposal focuses on striving to achieve the “good life” for rural farmers and field workers, many of whom earn their living through cultivating coca, poppy or marijuana crops. Specific objectives geared toward that goal include acknowledging that there are many families that are dependent on jobs in the production of these crops, and not letting them become poor or disenfranchised; helping rural farmers have a stronger voice in the government in such a way that their land is protected; and paving a way for a legal market for these crops to exist.
The proposal emphasized that if the government controlled the market for these crops and what the subsequent uses of the crops would be — the FARC listed “nutrition, medicine, therapy, culture, artisanal uses, and industrial uses as suggestions– then these rural communities will not be crippled by loss of work and the illicit trade could be shut out.
The FARC insisted that these farmers and cultivators are not the ones who are criminals and therefore should not be taken advantage of, persecuted, or harmed. Rather those who use the crops for drugs and sell them for illicit purposes should be viewed as the criminals.
In addition, the proposal asserted that the guerrilla group would help the government rezone land and parse out land in a fair and reasonable way that reflects the land that the farmers actually own. This would prevent the historic epidemic exploitation of rural citizens’ land but also of minerals or hydrocarbons according to the statement. The FARC said that it would look forward to working with and involving the use of municipal governments and town councils in order to implement this program. The government would pay for any and all costs that came with implementation.
Furthermore the FARC demanded that all coca-production conflict zones be demilitarized and renamed, Construction of Peace with Social Justice Territories, and geared toward such a mission.
Finding a solution to illicit drugs was initially the fourth on a six-item agenda, however it was pushed up to the third issue to be discussed after the two delegations came to agreements on the first two points of agrarian reform, and political participation.
The FARC and the government’s delegation resumed peace talks on Monday after taking a break during the December holidays.