InSight Crime reports:
UNODC Provides Bolivia with $20 Million to Tackle Drug Trade
Written by Tristan Clavel
The UNODC is providing Bolivia’s government with over $20 million in aid to combat organized crime, drug trafficking and corruption, a sign of the international community’s continued support for the Andean nation in the wake of its diplomatic fallout with the United States.
The funds are being transferred as part of the 2016-2020 “Country Program” (pdf) signed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Bolivian government on February 2, Bolivia’s foreign ministry announced in a press release.
Bolivia will pay $1.75 million out of the total $22 million aid package, while the rest will be financed by the European Union and its member states. Bolivia has already received $9.5 million of the funds, equivalent to 43 percent of the total.
The objective of the program is “to strengthen the capacity of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to prevent and respond to the interconnected threats related to drugs, organized crime and corruption,” the foreign ministry stated.
The program has five pillars: coca cultivation and integral development ($6.2 million); public health and drug legislation ($4.7 million); prevention and fight against organized crime ($5.9 million); prevention and fight against corruption ($2.6 million); and reform of the criminal justice system ($2.7 million).
InSight Crime Analysis
The UNODC appears to have become an alternative vessel through which the European Union and its member states can direct anti-narcotic funds to Bolivia. The EU has previously provided anti-drug aid to the Andean nation, and signed a contract with its government last November to help local institutions combat drug trafficking and related criminal activities.
Behind the EU’s financial support lies the diplomatic fallout between Bolivia and the United States. In 2008, President Evo Morales expelled the US Drug Enforcement Administration as well as the US ambassador, before taking a similar step with the US Agency for International Development in 2013. These incidents led to a severe cut in US anti-narcotics aid to Bolivia.
The Bolivian government has taken a markedly different approach to reducing coca cultivation than Peru and Colombia, which continue to receive US funding. The government’s emphasis on self-policing and farmers’ rights appears to be working; in 2015, the number of coca crops fell to their lowest point since the UNODC began monitoring in 2003.
That is not to say Bolivia has solved all of its problems related to organized crime and corruption. The government’s weak interdiction efforts make it a regional hub for drug trafficking, while corruption plagues state institutions and its prison system is among the most overcrowded in all of Latin America.