UN, Colombia sign key anti-cocaine pact

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VIENNA: The UN and Bogota signed a major pact Friday to uproot Colombia’s booming cocaine business, as part of ongoing peace efforts between the government and drug trade-controlling rebels. The deal worth $315 million dollars (270 million euros) aims to wean farmers off growing coca—the raw material for cocaine—by replacing it with safer crops like coffee and cacao. The Vienna-based Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said it was an initiative to free rural communities from the clutches of drug dealers. Colombia is ranked by the United Nations as the world’s biggest producer of coca. Colombia’s special post-conflict envoy Rafael Pardo Rueda hailed the project as “fundamental” for the implementation of a historic peace deal sealed in June between Bogota and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). For decades the drug trade funded the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group, which controlled key regions where coca leaf and cocaine production flourished.

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