Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bolivia to sign coca eradication deal with U.S., Brazil

The governments of Bolivia and the U.S. have not always been on the same page regarding illegal narcotics. In 2008, Bolivia expelled thirty Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents while both governments engaged in a tit-for-tat removal of each country’s ambassadors. In January U.S. officials blasted Bolivian president Evo Morales for trying to overturn a global ban on coca chewing, followed by Morales criticizing the U.S. for having “no morality to either speak out or question how Latin American countries fight narcotrafficking.”

But the bitterness between both governments could be a thing of the past based on actions this week. According to a senior Bolivian defense official, the Andean country will take part in a pilot coca eradication program along with Brazil and the U.S. According to the Bolivian government DEA agents would not return to Bolivia but the program would provide help in the removal of “illegal and excessive” amounts of coca.

The key component to the deal may be the financial assistance to be received by Bolivia:
Morales has ruled out the DEA's return but this week the vice-minister of social defense, Felipe Cáceres, said the government would accept $250,000 from Washington for satellite monitoring of manual eradication of illicit coca crops.

The deal, expected to be signed this week, was part of a joint initiative with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Brazil, which will contribute $100,000 to the satellite tracking.
The program comes three weeks after Bolivian justice minister Sacha Llorenti hinted that “a framework agreement” was being sought by the three contries in order to combat drug trafficking.

Image- AP via BBC News (“A Bolivian vendor sits among bags of coca leaves, that sell for about $140 (£70) each, as she waits for customers in La Paz.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, BBC News, ABC Color, The Guardian, EPA

1 comment:

Grotesque Stone Idols said...

When I saw your headline my jaw dropped but after reading everything makes more sense. I suppose "illegal" and "excessive" are the key words here: no one is actually talking about actual *eradication* of coca farming overall, just another stab at eradicating non-consumer coca.

Frankly the financial assistance seems rather slim, certainly a lot less than was pumped into the governments of the 80s and 90s for crazy war on drugs compliance!