By Pedro Hurtado Cánepa/Diálogo August 30, 2016 The Peruvian Government has initiated a set of actions geared towards improving the quality of life for families that are located in areas where illegal coca leaf cultivation, drug trafficking, and terrorism are found. These actions are part of the Intervention Program for the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers Region (VRAEM, for its Spanish acronym), which is a government program aimed at combating poverty, inequality, drug trafficking, and terrorism. The Andean departments of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Cusco, and Junín – cities whose common denominator is extreme levels of poverty – will be the beneficiaries of these actions. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI, Spanish acronym), these levels of poverty continue to be present in Huancavelica (70 to 77 percent), Ayacucho (53 to 57 percent), Cusco (37 to 45 percent), and Junín (30 to 36 percent). In the Andean nation, people who live in homes where the per capita income is insufficient to obtaining food and basic necessities are considered poor. The basic monthly food basket costs approximately $90. The main actions being carried out in these cities within the framework of the Multidimensional Security Strategy are technical training days, applied research, technological innovation, and the acquisition of ground platforms for development. The institutions responsible for carrying out these actions are the Joint Command of the Armed Forces (CCFFAA, for its Spanish acronym) and the National Office of Interior Government (ONAGI, for its Spanish acronym), which belongs to the Ministry of the Interior. “We are on track to pacify the VRAEM. Not only have we been able to neutralize the terrorists, but we have also worked hard to combat drug trafficking, to strengthen the presence of the State, and to bring productive development to historically abandoned areas. This is a topic that should transcend time to achieve a sustainable result,” said the Chief of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, Admiral Jorge Moscoso Flores. Commander Moscoso stressed the importance of having a strategic alliance with an institution like ONAGI, which participates in Traveling Social Action Platform (PIAS, for its Spanish acronym) activities in the Amazon region and provides constant support during humanitarian aid days carried out by the Joint Command. For Liz Alata Ramos, ONAGI National Chief until July 2016, a priority for the Central Government is improving the quality of life for remote communities, as well as strengthening deliveries of social aid to families in vulnerable situations and extreme poverty. “Through these agreements, ONAGI will be able to bring consistent social aid, goods and equipment to schools located in the VRAEM area,” said Alata. ONAGI’s mission is to ensure the State’s presence throughout Peruvian territory and must follow up on the execution of national policy, on domestic law enforcement, and on the maintenance of social order. Follow up and control To make sure these actions are carried out, Congress members that comprise the Budget and General Account Committee agreed to create working groups that will be in charge of verifying the execution of the development projects to be implemented in the VRAEM. “These working groups will develop a series of functions to monitor the safety and development of the population in this region of the country,” said Cecilia Chacón, president of the working group and leader of the opposition party Fuerza Popular. Significant numbers The Coca Crop Monitoring Survey drafted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that, as of December 2015, there were 40,300 hectares of coca crops, while in December 2014, there were 42,900 hectares. The two areas with the highest coca leaf production were the VRAEM (18,333 hectares) and La Convención province in Cusco (10,454 hectares). According to the report, dry coca leaves were, on average, priced at US$ 3.9 per kg in 2015, a decrease of 9.3 percent over 2014 ($4.3 per kg). In the VRAEM, the price was $3.2 per kg, which was 13.5 percent lower than the previous year. This decrease was the result of a higher supply of coca leaves as well as control efforts. Cocaine paste and cocaine hydrochloride were valued at $745 per kg (-11.6 percent) and $1,133 per kg (-3.8 percent), respectively. This drop is tied to purity levels of both cocaine-derived products sold in centers of consumption.