Urea, which adds nitrogen to the soil, is being diverted to coca production in Venezuela,
Coca pushing out corn in Venezuela in a black-market move
A fertilizer vital to crops is being diverted for use on the plants that provide the raw material for cocaine.
Urea, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer vital to crops from corn to tomatoes, is also used to fertilize the coca plants that provide the raw material for cocaine. A thriving black market that diverts the fertilizer from legal crops to coca has reduced agricultural production, contributing to Venezuela’s increasing dependence on imported food.
It may be no coincidence that alleged Venezuelan drug kingpin Walid Makled — he’s in a Colombian jail awaiting possible extradition to the United States — used to hold a contract to distribute urea for the state-owned petrochemical firm Pequiven.
The Venezuelan government, which wants Makled to stand trial in Caracas instead, admits much of the fertilizer never reached the farmers it was intended to benefit.
On paper, the country produces at least twice as much urea as it needs. The government subsidizes its use — subsidies amounted to about $100 million last year. But farmers say they don’t get enough of the fertilizer, especially when the main planting season begins in May.
In addition to its use as fertilizer, urea can also be used to make bombs, and
Adding to the problem, transporting urea — which can be used to make bombs — requires a permit from the armed forces and sometimes that is hard to obtain. The government also often donates the fertilizer to its allies abroad, such as the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
Simple corruption, or one more thread in the drugs-crime-terrorism cycle? You decide.
Cross-posted in The Green Room.