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Subsidized gasoline for coca in border areas

In 2020, 57% of coca leaf growers produced coca paste themselves. / Maria Camila Morales

Photo: Maria Camila Morales Lopez

To produce a kilo of cocaine base paste, 75 gallons of gasoline are used, although other fuels could be used. Coca growers prefer it because it is cheap and easy to get from irregular distributors. These, in turn, obtain it from various sources. The first is smuggling, common on the border with Venezuela due to the historic low prices of crude oil in that country, although it has been greatly reduced in recent years due to the crisis in PDVSA and the entire Venezuelan oil industry. During 2020 and part of 2021, the flow was reversed: Colombian gasoline was sold on the streets of San Cristóbal because Venezuelan gasoline was scarce. The slow recovery of that industry begins to balance things. (You may be interested in: Coca migrants: The crisis of the Venezuelan raspachines on the border)

In contrast, on the border with Ecuador, gasoline smuggling is not as frequent because its cost is subject to international prices and the neighboring country has a dollarized economy. Under these conditions, in departments such as Nariño and Putumayo, irregular distributors buy gasoline from groups that illegally steal it from pipelines. Ecopetrol has reported that this phenomenon has been increasing for several years and that it is concentrated around the oil infrastructure, particularly in the Trasandino and Caño Limón-Coveñas pipelines.

Source: Elespectador

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