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The Never-Ending War on Drugs: U.S. shifting its goals as narcotraffickers move on to new frontiers

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Colombia was once on the verge of becoming a failed state, racked by narcotrafficking and a long-running insurgency by the guerrilla group known as the FARC. Now the country is poised for newfound stability thanks in large part to more than a decade of effort and billions in American money and military aid. Gino Costa, the former interior minister of Peru, has watched Colombia’s gains with a sense of alarm, because as Colombia’s coca production has been cut by 40 percent since 2000, Peru’s has risen steadily, and the country is close to reclaiming its title as the world’s top producer of coca. “In Spanish we call it an efecto globo,” Costa tells NEWSWEEK. “You press down here, and it goes up in Colombia. You press down in Colombia, it goes up in Peru.”

That drug-related balloon effect has swept through the Andes since the 1970s, when the Nixon administration first began chemical air raids over coca fields in Peru and Bolivia, pushing the problem into Colombia. ...

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