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Published 22 October 2019

What Does It Mean For The Coffee Farmer In The Narco State?

Drug dealers, paramilitaries and guerillas prowl the Amazon basin and surroundings.  They all ride rough shot over land rights and the environment. their tools of non-persuasion are AK47s, and their tools of persuasion are machetes and chainsaws. Why and how do the coffee farmers remain in these regions?

They stay because the alternative is displacement, no job, no opportunity, no shelter, no nothing.  They stay because they will lose any right to return to that bit of land they had. They stay because it is the better of two evils.

If you are a coffee farmer who chooses to remain, then you have to pay protection money to the narco paramilitaries.  Since you won't be able to afford the protection money, you will have to do something for the paramilitary groups. So, the farmer stays but realizing that he may not be able to satisfy the demands for protection, the rest of the family leaves, in all probability for a very long time.  That is the Narco state with the resulting 6 million displaced.

In the affected areas the coffee pickers are also the coca leaf pickers, both commercial activities draw from the same labour pool. There is a seeming labour shortage of pickers, with essentially single parents and school children doing the picking.  Since few school teachers want to work here, if for no other reason than they are not going to get paid, children are an excellent cheap resource. These pickers also provide the base for mules for trafficking.  

Insight Crime: Colombia’s El Tandil – Where Children’s Education Depends on the Coca Leaf Maria Alejandra Navarrete -OCTOBER 28, 2019

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