VRAE or Apurimac and Ene Valley better fitting the abbreviation with Spanish language, is known for its often unpleasant history in Peru. This is the largest coca leaves producing valley in the country and United Nations released statistics that this area alone was responsible for cultivating 19,965 hectares of coca bushes last year. This figure is almost the equivalent of the cultivation in Bolivia taken as a whole or the total cultivation in half of Columbia.
A lot of field labs hidden in the precipitous forests above the valley take advantage of the forest canopy. The drug cartels evade the security forces’ tight vigil and after these labs are destroyed, they spring up again somewhere else. The produce is ferried through light aircraft in the cover of darkness.
The Shining Path leaders, responsible for this cocaine business are severely challenged in bloody battles by Peru’s President Ollanta Humala with a partnership with Washington. Security forces killed 2 Shining Path leaders in August and arrested 23 people involved along with arms suppliers and accountants. The government is mulling over establishing a military base too in this region to effectively counter them.
The farmers who are responsible for the cultivation are of the opinion that nothing is wrong in doing it. They see their occupation as the only means to feed their hungry children; offering them clothes to wear; pay for their medicines. The cultivation as a whole is thought of as a boon to their living conditions that are of extreme poverty.
Peruvians are tolerant people and have known to coexist with people of diverse traditions and groups. As they are known to foster ties with contrasting cultures, it is evident that a little nudge in the form of education for these farmers can work like a magic wand in curtailing illicit cultivation.
Image Source: Wikipedia