Peru has decided to start cracking down on unauthorized aircraft flying by declaring a no-fly zone over the biggest coca-producing crops in the region. This is in an attempt to cripple the surge in cocaine smuggling going out to neighboring borders. The last time Peru made a gesture of this magnitude was in 2001 when a United States missionary plane was shot down by the Peruvian military, killing a woman and her baby.
This proposal to revive a policy that was co-written by the CIA in the 90’s is an accident waiting to happen, it seems. It still needs to be approved by Peru’s Congress before president Otarola can sign off on it.
The no-fly zone is aimed at preventing aircraft from flying without military approval, in an area called the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro rivers, to prevent cocaine smugglers from transporting drugs to neighboring Bolivia, Brazil, and Columbia. Although the act of shooting down any illegal aircraft is supposed to be a last resort after attempts to contact and command the plane to turn around, the likelihood of cooperation at that point sounds slim.
The Peruvian government claims that over 150 tons of cocaine are smuggled out each year, with much of that coke ending up, ultimately, on U.S. soil. While the United States cannot actively participate in supporting this new no-fly policy, they undoubtedly have influence, sharing the same common goals to eradicate drug trafficking. President Otarola is trying to negotiate a renewal of active cooperation with the United States, assisting in everything from arming and training police to track down growers, to aiding in the no-fly zone operation, including the takedown, if necessary, of illegal aircraft.
Peru also has plans to destroy up to over one hundred square miles of coca crops this year, eliminating nearly 300 tons of potential cocaine. While that sounds like a lot of cocaine destroyed, these eradication policies have been largely unsuccessful and barely a deterrent on the massive scale of the drug trade war.
This has cost the Peruvian people billions of dollars, where they now sit on an $18 billion dollar debt. Obviously this approach is fundamentally wrong when you look at the volume of drug trafficking that still persists to this day between South America and the U.S. We here in the States are all too familiar with this fruitlessness and unprecedented waste in resources.