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Too many nations have made the mistake of underestimating the nature of the threat posed by illegal drug cultivation production trafficking and consumption Governments that have tolerated the cultivation of coca or opium poppies have seen deforestation and distortion of the agricultural sector Nations where drugs have yielded are produced or trafficked have seen their financial sectors and political institutions wracked by economic distortion and corruption Consuming countries have witnessed addiction and its terrible criminal health and social consequences No nation is immune from this transnational threat Nor can any nation stand up to the problem unilaterally Bilateral and multilateral responses to this international cancer encouraging results particularly in the Western Hemisphere The United Nations through the activities of its International Drug Control Programme the actions of its International Narcotics Control Board and the upcoming General Assemblys Special Session on Drugs is a key component of the global response to this common threat 1997 was a good year for international drug-control efforts particularly in the Western Hemisphere Appreciable gains were made in crop reduction in interdiction in weakening trafficking syndicates strengthening law enforcement and in targeting drug money laundering The years best news came from Peru for years the worlds largest coca growing country Three-plus years of joint efforts by US Peruvian and Colombian forces to choke off the air bridge that carries Peruvian cocaine base to Colombia for processing paid off handsomely The operation simultaneously deprived Colombian trafficking organizations of critical basic materials and drove down the price of coca leaf in Peru below the break-even point Disillusioned Peruvian growers abandoned fields to take advantage of alternative development opportunities As a result of the exodus in 1997 Peruvian coca cultivation dropped 27 percent an extraordinary decline that occurred on top of last years 18 percent reduction 1 Security Problems in Latin America The US estimates that Peru now cultivates 68800 hectares of coca just slightly more than half of the estimated 129100
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