Drug trafficking and illegal mining: threats to the environment?

According to United Nations these problematics represent an irreparable damage to the planet

Drug trafficking and illegal mining: threats to the environment?

Latin America is the region where most of the world's hallucinogenic substances are produced, mainly cocaine. This is not a secret. Unfortunately, Colombia is the pillar of this illegal activity that not only affects the international economy, but also influences the physical, mental and social performance of consumers in other countries.

The most recent report by the U.S. State Department indicates that Colombia is the first producer of cocaine in the world. According to the report, 90% of the drug seized comes from this South American nation. This analysis is worrisome taking into account the coffee nation is the second most biodiverse country on the planet after Brazil.

Colombia has an innumerable variety of species. In accordance to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), it is estimated that there are 56,343 species registered. From these species, 1,200 animal kinds have been identified in threat for different reasons. However, illicit activities such as coca production and illegal mining facilitate damage to the environment because it directly attacks flora and fauna.

Most laboratories or "kitchens" (as they are colloquially known) are found in the mountains and jungles of Colombia. The producers have suppliers who sell the illicit crop for their benefit. Many of these lands were wooded areas that were deforested to grow coca, poppy, among others illicit substances.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) affirms that from 2001 to the present, more than 22,000 hectares of coca bush are located in places where forest was previously appreciated. This is a serious and ironic problematic, as it was said before, Colombia is the second country with the greatest biodiversity and at the same time it is one of those that least protects it. Then, the question that arises is: what are the strategies of the national government to counteract these effects?

Now, if we talk about illegal mining, we have a fairly strong reference in terms of the negative damage it causes to the natural environment. If the exploitation of minerals is not developed properly the consequences are irreparable. The data, of studies carried out by the National Institute of Natural Resources (INDERENA), shows us the negative impact caused by people or companies. Those who develop these activities erroneously affect potential hydrographic basins, geological resources, biological resources, atmosphere and the socioeconomic status of the country. The impact of illegal mining has a serious influence on the ecosystem because it generates environmental pollution, diversion of rivers, floods, transformation of flora and fauna, loss of crops in peasant sectors, etc. 

One could interpret that organized crime is the main cause of all these environmental tragedies that we are currently witnessing. However, political leaders have not succeeded in effectively implementing a plan that mitigates these actions that put at risk an entire nation. 

LatinAmerican Post | Brandon Martínez

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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