The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, March 15, 2004

Bolivia: the narco game has shifted

In the wider lunacy of the War of Drugs, a battle has been won, it seems. (Yipee!)

In the Chapare - homeland of leading bolshie and leader of the cocaleros Evo Morales - of all places, coca eradication is going gangbusters!

How did that happen?

There is the recent State Department Counter Narcotics Report which says that, cultivation in Chapare was down 15% in 2003. Which sounds OK, but not vastly impressive.

But a piece in El Deber of Santa Cruz (March 14), focusing on a visit by Robert Charles, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs [1], is more optimistic [2]:
Oficialmente se calcula que en Chapare quedan unas 4.600 hectáreas de coca, cantidad mínima en comparación con los sembradíos de otras épocas.

Charles comes over all Alliance for Progress:
Hace apenas cuatro años, cuando también sobrevolé Chapare, había coca ilegal por todos lados. Hoy, he visto cientos de hectáreas de banana, yuca, maíz, pimentones y animales.

He even suggested that Uncle Sam might provide even more moolah for legal development of the area.

However, the old balloon effect is in operation: if Chapare production is being cut back, that in the Yungas is flourishing [3]. (The law currently allows 12,000 hectares in the Yungas to be grown for the traditional uses - chewing, tea, etc. It doesn't help.)

Strangely, Charles seems to have the time to visit Chapare, but not the Yungas!

  1. It says here.

  2. The State Department report says that
    Through aggressive intervention, the GOB reduced cultivation from its peak in 1989 (from 52,900 to 28,450 hectares in 2003), effectively removing the Chapare from the coca/cocaine circuit.
    How the 28,450 hectares ties up with the 4,600 in the El Deber piece, I know not.

  3. Geography? Chapare is a provincia of the departamento of Cochabamba in the centre of the country, and is tropical and low altitude. The Yungas are valleys at relatively high altitude, further north, closer to La Paz.

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