Bolivian coca/cocaine 101 … under evo: The failed Bolivian ‘model’

Susana Seleme writes in

The failed Bolivian ‘model’

“The world is a round mass that ferments. Ferments through oil … Ferments through gases. Ferment through the web. But there is an ingredient that is faster than the others and everyone wants. And it’s the coca. That plant that crosses the Atlantic like an elastic band that can be stretched to infinity without ever breaking.” Roberto Saviano [1].

The ‘model’ against drugs, which the regime chief, Evo Morales, boasts is that of “concerted eradication”, “voluntary” or “social control” over coca leaf crops. That it has healing or other powers, as he says, does not mean that it is the raw material of cocaine. Like all capitalist production, there begins the coca-cocaine chain.

If there are 19,000 hectares of illegal coca, according to the data of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), what success do you speak of? Whatever it is called, the ‘model is a resounding failure, although Morales defends it. He ratified it at the 62nd session of the Commission against the Use of Narcotics of the UN, in Vienna.

If the legal ones, according to the new General Law of the Coca -march 2017- are 22 thousand Ha and the illegal ones 19 Ha, it means that there are 41,000 Ha of plantations of the bush in Bolivia. Of these, 85% are illegal according to the report, delivered by the representative of UNODC in Bolivia, César Guedes.

In Cochabamba, 6,832 hectares of plantations were eradicated, when according to the new Law in force, in the Chapare province, 7,777 hectares are allowed [2]. In Yungas, of La Paz, 2,664 hectares were eradicated and those allowed, always according to the new Law are 14,300. In Yapacaní, in the department of Santa Cruz, which is not included in said Law, 1,673 hectares were eradicated, and in the province of José Ballivián, in Beni, which does not appear in said Law, 2,64 hectares.

With four departments ‘producers of coca leaf’, its agricultural frontier has extended beyond the traditional areas of Yungas – the only one suitable for consumption – and Chapare, whose leaves are hard, bitter and do not serve for the ‘chew’ or to be chewed. This area concentrated 7000 hectares of illegal coca leaf crops until 2017. Today, its 7,700 hectares are praised and sanctified with the new law. Other studies state that only 8 thousand hectares are needed to satisfy the chewing.

The UNODC report highlights that 22% of coca leaf crops in Cochabamba are located in National Parks, both in the Isiboro-Sécure National Park (Tipnis) and in Carrasco Park. The figures indicate that 12% of the coca crops in that department are in the TIPNIS, another 10% in the Carrasco Park and the remaining 78% in Chapare, Tiraque, the Carrasco province, and in Yapacaní (Santa Cruz). The report indicates that in Bolivia coca crops in National Parks are prohibited. It is a dead letter, because it is also cultivated in other parks, such as the Amboró in Santa Cruz, which the study does not mention.

In the Tipnis, the so-called ‘intercultural’, overflows of Chapare, have under control the so-called Polygon 7. As the coca growers of Chapare, do not allow to enter the authorities and less the media.

The UN representative added that “apparently” there is also an increase in drug trafficking. The Deputy Minister of Social Defense and Controlled Substances, Felipe Cáceres, indicated that they are analyzing the capacity of drug production with the current amount of cultivation. He points out that “Before, more coca leaf was needed to make the drug, apparently, now less is required.” Will he know that there is a higher yield per hectare, according to a study by congresswoman Jimena Costa, thanks to ‘narcos’ from other countries? by the introduction of crop technification?

The coca growers who sell the leaf in the market of Sacaba, in Cochabamba, do not know what the fate of that coca is. Such an assertion is striking, since it is widely known that 95% of the Cochabamba coca leaf, and the other illegal Ha, go to the production of drugs. That’s another history.

The failure to control the raw material is overwhelming, when reality is contrasted with Morales’ statements. He affirms that in Chapare people no longer live off coca, but on the sale of fruits and fish. “That they admire us, without the tutelage of the American DEA, as it was before; now we show that we fight alone better than before.” The model also allows wiretapping, payment to witnesses, effective repentance and the extinction of property control. However, nothing slows the expansion of crops. There is immunity and impunity.

The cocaleros reject the UNODC report. They point out that it is a United Nations maneuver because they want to see Bolivia as a country of drug traffickers, when Bolivia has become a transit of drug trafficking.

It is, but it also produces illegal coca leaf. In spite of them, is the raw material of cocaine … That rubber band, which tensed to infinity and converted into cocaine, “governs the world,” according to Saviano.

[1] Writer and Italian journalist. He has described the reality of the drug trafficking mafias, such as the Neapolitan Camorra, in his novel “Gomorra”, translated into 52 languages. Its intention is to show the harshness of organized crime, and to break the pacts of silence or ‘omertá.’ Also for people to open their eyes to the problem. Saviano lives with carabineros escort, given the threats of the mafias.

[2] That area is the ‘Sanctuary’ of Morales, as the journalist Carlos Valverde affirms, since he is president of the 6 Cocaleros del Trópico Federations for more than 20 years. Today, as president of the State, it has his representative there.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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