Gregorio Lanza writes in Pagina Siete:
Conflicts, coca growers of the Chapare and coronavirus
The leaders of the six coca producer federations in the tropics of Cochabamba rejected the entry of the Police into the region. One wonders, revenge? Provocation? Evo Morales’ instructions? or defense of drug production? Perhaps all together, however, if you analyze the history and actions of the producers of the Chapare, it can be inferred that it is about defending the illegal industry, which in these periods manages to maximize its production and income.
If we look at agricultural production throughout the country, it is almost normal. both in the east, where it is the soybean harvest season, and in the west. And, in the Chapare, how is the production of coca, base paste and cocaine hydrochloride? The answer is: better than ever. Because coca is harvested, there are precursors such as gasoline, detergents, cement, urea and then the industry is booming. At the time of Evo Morales, President of the six federations of coca (and illicit) producers in the Tropics, and in Bolivia, there was protection from the State; now there is no protection but there is also no control due to the pandemic.
In the Chapare there is a narco-State, and it is not a value judgment or the frantic prohibitionist discourse that some authorities recite, it is about referring to the facts: it is a territory with an illicit productive base -coca transformed into base paste-, and where the authorities: mayors, councilmen, leaders and union police have power. They are the ones who organize production, regulate the laws and enforce them, all in order to maximize their production and profit.
In addition, the majority belongs to and/or is forced to comply with the slogans that Evo Morales transmits from Buenos Aires. It is a State within the State that generates ungovernability and can only be dismantled in a long time, through the political and not the military route. As, in his own way, the Defense Minister has put it, “we will not fall for their provocation, we are a government of dialogue;” well, Morales and his staff are interested in the dead, who will not be Andronicus, nor Loza, but anonymous peasants, like the ones they sent to Sacaba.
Consequently, it can be inferred that careful conflict management is necessary in the midst of the pandemic. Where dialogue and law enforcement are part of it. No wrong steps can be taken. If the police enter, it must be to stay and not expose the troops to public harassment and derision.
The government, in response to the decision of the leaders to prohibit the entry of the Police into the Chapare, has resolved the closure of financial entities in the region, a measure whose effectiveness is relative, because drug money will continue to circulate; rather, bank closings can affect people who do not have a direct relationship with the illicit business.
In addition, externally it could give an image that an action is being used that goes against the rights of all the inhabitants of that region, which fuels the victimized discourse, of repression and racism that is part of the fundamental narrative of MÁS and Evo Morales.
On the other hand, the actions promoted by the MAS leadership aim to take advantage and fuel the conflict, which is dangerously incubating in the suburban cords of the capitals, or in the poorest and immigration districts of El Alto, where the quarantine it is resisted and fairs, with massive attendance, are normally installed, which also reflects the needs of a population that lives from daily work.
For this population, the debate between less freedom and more life is irrelevant, since they have lived with the possibility of death since birth; without medical services, a subsistence agriculture and without employment.
Understanding the context is essential to manage the crisis that will be recurring in a prospective where the impacts of the coronavirus, aggravated by the dire state that the 14-year-old government of Evo Morales has left to health and economy, today inciting hatred and confrontation, hidden in his bunker in Buenos Aires.
Gregorio Lanza is an economist with masters degrees in public policy.