Spotlight on Bolivia: The “Coca Diplomacy” of Evo Morales

Source: CNN

At last month’s meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Bolivian President Evo Morales made headlines by dramatically brandishing a coca leaf he had apparently smuggled into the Austrian city between the pages of a book. The coca leaf, which is the unrefined source of cocaine and is considered an illegal substance under the UN’s 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, holds special significance for the Bolivian leader. A former cultivator of the plant himself, Morales swept into the presidency in 2006 with the backing of Bolivia’s cocaleros movement, a syndicate of coca-growers unions Morales has helmed for decades.

The standard-bearer of his own political party, the Movement Toward Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS), Morales has faithfully conformed to the MAS platform. His tenure has seen the establishment of an intensely nationalistic, left-leaning government whose ambitions lie in the installment of a uniquely Bolivian brand of “Andean capitalism,” and whose support base is firmly rooted in Bolivia’s largely agrarian indigenous population. As President of Bolivia and leader of the cocaleros, Morales has remained true to his constituency, having instituted a policy of “Yes to Coca, No to Cocaine” (Coca Sí, Cocaína No). Under the policy, the cultivation of coca for legal purposes has been expanded, while the Bolivian government has ramped up efforts to crack down on the illegal production of cocaine. Meanwhile, Morales has lobbied for international acceptance of the coca leaf, citing its importance in Andean culture and touting its uses in everything from medicine and soap, to candy and liquor.

As the third largest producer of cocaine, Bolivia represents an enormously important area of interest for the United States. The Andean nation’s drug policy is of vital concern to Washington, and so when the Morales government officially devotes 12,000 hectares—about 30,000 acres, though Bolivian coca occupies approximately triple that in reality—to the cultivation of a plant classified internationally as an illegal substance, the United States takes notice, and when it calls for 8,000 more to be set aside, that is doubly true. Thus, Morales’ advocacy on behalf of the deceptively innocuous-looking coca leaf, combined with his naturally outspoken demeanor, has left many U.S. officials ill at ease.

Washington, traditionally in favor of the complete eradication of the plant as part of its ongoing War on Drugs, has in recent years endorsed alternative development programs. Yet the success of these programs, which subsidize farmers who choose to suspend their cultivation of coca in favor of other crops, has been limited, as coca is far more cost-effective than alternatives like coffee and rice, which are more labor-intensive and require more land to grow. And so while recent spikes in global food prices and renewed USAID pushes for alternative development models have made life without coca more feasible for the average farmer, the polarizing plant remains an attractive option for many Bolivians. Indeed, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, although significant eradication efforts have been made under the Morales administration, they “have not resulted in a net reduction in the cultivation of coca,” and thus illicit cocaine production in Bolivia has held steady at an estimated 195 tons annually.

The sheer size of Bolivia’s domestic cocaine industry, to say nothing of the vast amounts of the drug produced elsewhere and shipped through Bolivia en route to markets in the U.S. or Brazil, is of grave concern to the United States. And Morales, who expelled the American ambassador and drove U.S. DEA agents from the country in 2008, has done little to assuage Washington’s fears. Such tensions between U.S. policymakers and the oft-critical Latin American leader play into the larger narrative of Washington’s War on Drugs, as the U.S., in waging its patently ruinous crusade, has continually sought to pressure Latin American countries into falling in line with its own agenda.

Hence, what Washington calls a warranted effort to cut the hemisphere’s flow of cocaine off at its source, many Latin American countries see as an attempt on the part of the world’s largest consumer of cocaine to bully them into footing the bill for the United States’ own problems at home. And for Morales, frequent critic of the U.S. and unabashed advocate of the coca leaf, the idea of scaling back cultivation of a potentially lucrative and culturally significant resource at the behest of such a bully is absurd. Consequently, so long as Washington continues to push for eradication in accordance with the failed War on Drugs to which it so desperately clings, La Paz—and Morales—will continue to be a thorn in the side of the United States.

If Washington is interested in putting an end to the plague of drug-related violence that has racked the hemisphere for decades, then short of a full-throated endorsement of outright decriminalization, it must find willing partners. And to do that, it has to be willing to work with those who have their own domestic agendas to contend with. In the case of Evo Morales, this means recognizing that coca is not cocaine, just as wheat is not beer and grapes not wine, and acting accordingly. It means respecting a country’s millennia-old heritage, and it means opening the doors to a large and previously untaxed area of the market. But most of all, it means acknowledging that Washington does not have all the answers.

This analysis was prepared by Alexander Frye, Research Associate for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

Please accept this article as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution. Exclusive rights can be negotiated. 

10 thoughts on “Spotlight on Bolivia: The “Coca Diplomacy” of Evo Morales

  • April 26, 2012 at 9:34 am
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    Evo Morales does not have to smuggle leaves into diplomatic functions, he is the president of a country. He can carry a pouch of coca leaves anywhere he wants. Considering that you selected that particular photo you may also want to know that the clear bottle with the bright green liquid in it on the podium in front of him is called AGWA it is a coca liquor that is manufactured in Holland near the Hague, which I believe is the United Nations International Court. Do you think the Judges have tried these popular coca products available in Holland?

    I am an American, I live in Venezuela and I sell coca leaves, tea and other natural coca leaf products that I buy from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, my business depends on the coca leaf, fortunately the coca leaf was made legal here implicitly by Hugo Chavez who recommended the use of the leaf and the artisan production of products made from the leaf and he subsequently purchased 4 tons of coca leaves.

    The coca leaf is prized as a superfood and natural medicine by the people of the Andes, Harvard University did a study on the coca leaf in 1975 which determined that 100 grams of coca leaf satisfied the daily nutrition needs of a person.

    Eradication of the leaf is not the answer, it serves the Andean people a necessary food source, a traditional medicine, and part of their cultural heritage. While in the North people will just increase production of synthesized cocaine hydro-chloride which they are already doing, but the DEA isn't watching the furon purchases at chemical supply stores.

    This past weekend I hosted an exposition about the coca leaf here in Caracas, Venezuela we served 1200 cups of Triple Coca Tea (3x Té de Coca) and over 400 people chewed coca leaves. Additionally we distributed 1400 tri-fold brochures that presented educational information about the coca leaf and coca tea. Our event was covered by Agence France-Presse (AFP) we were also mentioned in the largest national newspaper here in Venezuela 'Ultimas Noticias,' I hoped for a bit more media coverage with emphasis on the benefits of the coca leaf, perhaps another day soon as the demand for my product increases with each cup I serve.

    I have hundreds of repeat customers, many senior citizen who drink coca tea for their arthritis and rheumatism others use it to lose weight because of its special properties as a digestive. Many think that the cocaine which is present in the tea as an alkaloid is the same as the street drug which is derived from the leaf to make 'cocaine hydrochloride'.

    Meanwhile I will continue to recommend to others to eat bread and drink tea made from the coca leaf. The more people that learn the truth the freer the coca leaf will become.

    Reply
  • April 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm
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    The alternative was presented in an article I wrote, published in the Hartford Courant in Hartford, Connercticut in 1985. Under the title, "Americans Cannot Afford Cultural Isolationism", I submitted that the economy and industrial might of the United States could well look south of the border to push for the induystrialization and development of what was calculated at about 500 million potential consumers by the year 2000.

    Reply
  • April 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm
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    This article has several fundamental flaws: that it doesn't acknowledge the fact that due to a succesful interdiction program in the area surrounding Colombia, less than 5% of Bolivia's cocaine reaches the U.S. Therefore, Bolivia by any standart doesn't "represent[s] an enormously important area of interest for the United States."
    Another flaw of this article is that it doesn't mention that Bolivia's cocaine is now going to Europe (via Brazil). So, the parties that are really interested in reducing Bolivia's cocaine production are the Brazilian govnt. and the europeans.
    Finally, the article doesn't mention a very serious research funded by the European Union, which tries to establish the exact quantity of coca leaf that's consumed in Bolivia for traditional purposes. This would allow everybody to know how much coca leaf is diverted to cocaine production. The study has been completed, but the Bolivian govnt. is delaying its release as much as possible because that would bring its more than relaxed policy regarding coca plantation into the spotlight.

    Reply
  • April 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm
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    Our full critique of this article can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/7swx35r

    Our main points are as follows:

    1.“At last month’s meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Bolivian President Evo Morales made headlines by dramatically brandishing a coca leaf he had apparently smuggled into the Austrian city between the pages of a book.”
    •This event occurred at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in 2009, not last month.
    •As a head of state, Morales has no need to "smuggle" coca leaves because he has diplomatic privileges
    2.
    •Morales gained a higher percentage of the popular vote than any other president, at that time and still, in spite of recent setbacks, his support extends far beyond coca growers unions. He has long been head of one sector of coca growers' from the Chapare region, but other groups in the La Paz Yungas at times oppose his initiatives
    3.“[Morales’] support base is firmly rooted in Bolivia’s largely agrarian indigenous population. “
    •Bolivia's indigenous population is no longer "largely" agrarian, with large population center like El Alto. Furthermore, indigenous support for Morales should not be generalized. At this time, key indigenous umbrella organizations, such as CIDOB and CONAMAQ strongly oppose a series of Morales initiatives, such as the construction of a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory. Furthermore, Morales also has non-indigenous support from various unions and traditional leftist leaders.
    4. While the article, like many others, note that Bolivia is the third largest coca producer, that also puts Bolivia in last place with much less the amount of coca produced in both Colombia and Peru.
    5. “Bolivia represents an enormously important area of interest for the United States. The Andean nation’s drug policy is of vital concern to Washington"
    •Certainly, the expulsion of Ambassador Goldberg and the DEA in 2008 provoked a great deal of resentment against the Morales administration in Washington, leading to the withdrawal of trade preferences and repeated "decertification" of the country's drug war performance. However, Bolivia has never been a priority in U.S. foreign policy of the cocaine produced in Bolivia goes to the United States, with the great bulk of it traveling to or through Brazil and Argentina to Europe and West Africa.

    Reply
  • April 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm
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    6. “The Andean nation’s drug policy is of vital concern to Washington, and so when the Morales government officially devotes 12,000 hectares…—to the cultivation of a plant classified internationally as an illegal substance, the United States takes notice, and when it calls for 8,000 more to be set aside, that is doubly true. “
    •Although 1988 Drug Law 1008 stipulates 12,000 hectares of legal coca production, Morales administration policy sets the limit at 20,000 hectares, based on model of controlled, rationed coca production initially agreed upon in October 2004 before Morales was president.
    7. “12,000 hectares—about 30,000 acres, though Bolivian coca occupies approximately triple that in reality”
    •This comparison depends on which coca production statistics and legal limit ceiling used. At 20,000 hectares, the state limit since 2006, current coca cultivation surpasses this figure by only 50%. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Bolivia had 31,000 hectares of coca in 2010, the U.S. sets that number at 34,500.
    8. The article in accurately described the coca leaf as “deceptively innocuous-looking.”
    The coca leaf, in its natural form is, in fact, innocuous and has significant medicinal and nutritional benefits.
    9. “Washington, traditionally in favor of the complete eradication of the plant as part of its ongoing War on Drugs, has in recent years endorsed alternative development programs.”
    •USAID began alternative development efforts in Bolivia almost 25 years ago.
    •Yet, as the COHA piece points out, the success of these programs, which subsidize farmers who choose to suspend their cultivation of coca in favor of other crops, has been limited, as coca is far more cost-effective than alternatives like coffee and rice, which are more labor-intensive and require more land to grow.

    13.“The sheer size of Bolivia’s domestic cocaine industry, to say nothing of the vast amounts of the drug produced elsewhere and shipped through Bolivia en route to markets in the U.S. or Brazil, is of grave concern to the United States”
    •Yet it is the smallest of the three Andean countries, only 1 percent reaches the US. In contrast, the US government calculates that 95.5% of the cocaine in the US comes from Colombia according to the 2012 INSCR. Furthermore, funding priorities do not demonstrate “grave concern” about Bolivia. The US has cut antidrug funding dramatically, slating only $7.5 million without overhead for 2012. Peru will receive over five times and Colombia more than 30 time more U.S. funding for the same period.

    14. “And Morales, who expelled the American ambassador and drove U.S. DEA agents from the country in 2008, has done little to assuage Washington’s fears.”
    •Although friction persists over these and other issues, bilateral relations have improved. On the ground, daily cooperation between the Narcotic Affairs Section of the US embassy and Bolivian drug control officials and agencies continues. In November 2011, both countries signed a new bilateral framework agreement, formally reinstating relations and announced the intention to reinstate ambassadors. The agreement includes recurring dialogue on drug policy issues. In January 2012, Bolivia, the U.S. and Brazil signed a trilateral coca monitoring agreement. At the Summit of the Americas, President Obama observed, “The recent agreement between the US, Brazil and Bolivia to go after (excess) coca cultivation in Bolivia, is the kind of collaboration we need.”
    •Other U.S officials have also recognized Bolivian counterdrug efforts. In October 2011 Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield told a congressional committee,”In Bolivia, eradication efforts are a highlight of a sometimes difficult bilateral relationship and actually exceeded the 2010 target of 8,000 hectares. These efforts appear to have stopped the expansion of coca cultivation…Those findings are reinforced by the U.S. estimate that actually showed a 500 hectare decrease in land under coca cultivation. In Bolivia, U.S. assistance, including support for training and canine programs, has resulted in Bolivian seizures of coca leaf that are 19 times higher than they were a decade ago."
    •The 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, also notes: “The government took significant steps to control coca production in the Chapare.” As well as “The FELCN [Bolivian antidrug police] achieved numerous high-profile successes during 2011”and “ Bolivia intensified coca eradication efforts, reporting the eradication of more than 10,000 hectares for the first time since 2002, even as eradication forces continued to meet resistance from coca growers.”

    Reply
  • April 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm
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    10. “And so while recent spikes in global food prices and renewed USAID pushes for alternative development models’
    •In 2008 farmers in the Chapare, one main coca-growing region, decided to reject USAID alternative development projects. As a result, the organization no long works in the region.
    •Although USAID continues to carry out alternative development efforts in parts of the La Paz Yungas coca producing region and has recently had some success with coffee projects, repeated Morales administration officials accusations of USAID’s meddling in Bolivian politics and severe budget cuts have dramatically reduced the scope and depth of these efforts- clearly these are not “recent pushes.”

    11.“ USAID pushes for alternative development models have made life without coca more feasible for the average farmer, the polarizing plant remains an attractive option for many Bolivians.”
    •The areas in which USAID carries out alternative development efforts have limited and reduced coca production per family, but not eliminated it entirely in a Bolivian government initiative known as “Integrated Development with Coca.”

    12. “Indeed, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, although significant eradication efforts have been made under the Morales administration, they “have not resulted in a net reduction in the cultivation of coca,”
    •Yet, US figures published in the same report register a net reduction of 500 hectares from 2009 to 2011.

    Reply
  • April 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm
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    This is a remarkably dishonest and inaccurate article. It has been reviewed by several writers and organizations who have much more expertise in this area that I do and URL's to those articles are included in this comment section. I would encourage any reader of this article to look deeper into this matter.

    I would like to say however that the underlying concept that promotes coca as a harmful plant that must be destroyed is the most dishonest thing about the entire article. (Well, saying a democratically elected leader "smuggled" coca is also very ugly.)

    Coca is used by the much of the indigenous population of South America, and it is particularly necessary as a resource for food and energy in the high elevations of Bolivia and Peru. It is a whole food (one of the few plants that provides a complete protein) which sustains life for the poor of these regions. There should be no reason for these people to quit using or growing this plant.

    If the US wishes to change the habits of their people then the use of the coca plant should be promoted. The sale of Cocaine has made many people in Mexico and the US very rich through direct sales of this poison. The payment to countries in South America to assist the US in interdiction in the drug war has also made many people rich. The methods used by law enforcement in all of the Americas is destructive and needs to stop. We fill the prisons in our country with people accused of drug crimes and those prisons have created yet another profit center living of the misery of humanity.

    We need decriminalize the leaf and promote its use. This will help discourage the use of Cocaine and it will give the indigenous people of Bolivia a living growing the plant that has sustain them for many thousands of years.

    May Pacha Mama assist us all in realizing that Coca is a gift!

    Reply
  • May 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm
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    AndeanInfoNet,

    While I appreciate your critique and the good intentions behind it, much of it calls for substantial correction. To wit:

    1) “This event occurred at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in 2009, not last month.
    As a head of state, Morales has no need to “smuggle” coca leaves because he has diplomatic privileges.”

    While Morales did something similar in 2009 and other years, the event in question occurred, as I said, last month. Numerous news outlets reported on it, including Reuters (http://tinyurl.com/7pjlv38) and CNN (http://tinyurl.com/6tmv4gq). And while Morales does have certain diplomatic privileges in his capacity as President of Bolivia, the title by no means renders him incapable of smuggling. “To smuggle” is simply “to convey or introduce surreptitiously” (http://tinyurl.com/6pq9ngt), which, regardless of whether or not he needed to, is precisely what he did. To quote the Christian Science Monitor (http://tinyurl.com/78cx7kg) in reference to a 2006 incident, “It turned out that the new head of state had technically smuggled the coca leaves past US Customs officials by hiding them in the book he carried with him onto the plane in order to bring them to UN Headquarters in New York.”

    2) “Morales gained a higher percentage of the popular vote than any other president, at that time and still, in spite of recent setbacks, his support extends far beyond coca growers unions. He has long been head of one sector of coca growers' from the Chapare region, but other groups in the La Paz Yungas at times oppose his initiatives.”

    Certainly, Morales was elected because he received a plurality of the vote, and as you point out, Morales' support extends “far beyond coca growers unions,” but it is a simple statement of fact that Morales enjoys widespread—though not universal—support among the cocaleros.

    3) “Bolivia's indigenous population is no longer 'largely' agrarian, with large population center like El Alto. Furthermore, indigenous support for Morales should not be generalized. At this time, key indigenous umbrella organizations, such as CIDOB and CONAMAQ strongly oppose a series of Morales initiatives, such as the construction of a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory. Furthermore, Morales also has non-indigenous support from various unions and traditional leftist leaders.”

    It's true that, just as the majority of Bolivia's population is ethnically indigenous, so too does the majority live in cities, but a full 33% of Bolivians still live in rural areas (http://tinyurl.com/3c8wxq). It would be a false statement to declare Bolivia's indigenous population “mostly” agrarian, but an entirely fair one to declare it “largely” agrarian, which is what I said. And again, while Morales can find supporters and detractors in every stratus of society, it would not be the least bit controversial to say that a sizable portion of Morales' base is made up of ethnically indigenous, rural farmers.

    4) “While the article, like many others, note that Bolivia is the third largest coca producer, that also puts Bolivia in last place with much less the amount of coca produced in both Colombia and Peru.”

    Colombia and Peru fall outside the scope of this article, which, as per the title, is concerned with only Bolivia, but you're quite right that Colombia and Peru both produce more coca than does Bolivia.

    5) “Certainly, the expulsion of Ambassador Goldberg and the DEA in 2008 provoked a great deal of resentment against the Morales administration in Washington, leading to the withdrawal of trade preferences and repeated 'decertification' of the country's drug war performance. However, Bolivia has never been a priority in U.S. foreign policy of the cocaine produced in Bolivia goes to the United States, with the great bulk of it traveling to or through Brazil and Argentina to Europe and West Africa.”

    This is a fair point. I would only add that while Bolivia is not in the same league as countries the U.S. has deemed vital to its national security interests, as one of the three pillars of cocaine production in the Western Hemisphere, it is an area of interest, if not quite the priority you might, for example, call Colombia.

    Reply
  • May 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm
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    6 & 7) “Although 1988 Drug Law 1008 stipulates 12,000 hectares of legal coca production, Morales administration policy sets the limit at 20,000 hectares, based on model of controlled, rationed coca production initially agreed upon in October 2004 before Morales was president. '12,000 hectares—about 30,000 acres, though Bolivian coca occupies approximately triple that in reality.' This comparison depends on which coca production statistics and legal limit ceiling used. At 20,000 hectares, the state limit since 2006, current coca cultivation surpasses this figure by only 50%. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Bolivia had 31,000 hectares of coca in 2010, the U.S. sets that number at 34,500.”

    This is all true, though none of it contradicts what I said, which is that the official, legal limit placed on coca production is 12,000 hectares, with the actual amount of Bolivian land dedicated to coca cultivation being approximately triple that. And the Morales administration, to quote myself, “calls for 8,000 more to be set aside,” yet under Law 1008, the limit remains 12,000 hectares, even as the Morales government declines to enforce it.

    8) “The article in accurately described the coca leaf as 'deceptively innocuous-looking.' The coca leaf, in its natural form is, in fact, innocuous and has significant medicinal and nutritional benefits.”

    Here you seem to have misinterpreted what I said. The coca leaf is small, oblong, and green, as innocuous-looking as it is possible for a leaf to be, with an appearance belying its manifold uses. Thus, it is deceptively innocuous-looking.

    9 & 10) “USAID began alternative development efforts in Bolivia almost 25 years ago. Yet, as the COHA piece points out, 'the success of these programs, which subsidize farmers who choose to suspend their cultivation of coca in favor of other crops, has been limited, as coca is far more cost-effective than alternatives like coffee and rice, which are more labor-intensive and require more land to grow.' In 2008 farmers in the Chapare, one main coca-growing region, decided to reject USAID alternative development projects. As a result, the organization no long works in the region. Although USAID continues to carry out alternative development efforts in parts of the La Paz Yungas coca producing region and has recently had some success with coffee projects, repeated Morales administration officials accusations of USAID’s meddling in Bolivian politics and severe budget cuts have dramatically reduced the scope and depth of these efforts- clearly these are not 'recent pushes.'”

    According to your own website (http://tinyurl.com/72mporr), the U.S. began promoting alternative development in Bolivia 30 years ago, but your point is nevertheless well taken that a timespan of several decades hardly qualifies as being “in recent years.” My point, however, was that alternative development is a relatively recent departure from Washington's standard policy of eradication, which began in 1961, over two decades earlier.

    11) “The areas in which USAID carries out alternative development efforts have limited and reduced coca production per family, but not eliminated it entirely in a Bolivian government initiative known as 'Integrated Development with Coca.'”

    This is true, though it controverts nothing I said.

    12) “Yet, US figures published in the same report register a net reduction of 500 hectares from 2009 to 2011.”

    No, the report (http://tinyurl.com/6sbguqh) says nothing of the kind. What you may be referring to is the 2012 INCSR (http://tinyurl.com/8x7ub86), and while that indeed states that the U.S. Federal Government's estimate reflects a 500-hectare reduction, it also points out that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports a modest increase over the same period.

    Reply
  • May 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm
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    13) “Yet it is the smallest of the three Andean countries, only 1 percent reaches the US. In contrast, the US government calculates that 95.5% of the cocaine in the US comes from Colombia according to the 2012 INSCR. Furthermore, funding priorities do not demonstrate “grave concern” about Bolivia. The US has cut antidrug funding dramatically, slating only $7.5 million without overhead for 2012. Peru will receive over five times and Colombia more than 30 time more U.S. funding for the same period.”

    Once again, this article is concerned only with Bolivia, not with Colombia and Peru, which are, yes, comparably greater sources of coca and cocaine. As such, the U.S. Federal Government earmarks correspondingly greater funds to combat production in those countries than in Bolivia. Yet the fact remains that Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia collectively represent the origin of virtually the entirety of the world's cocaine supply. And while true that most of the cocaine entering the U.S. comes from Colombia, it should be noted that much of the cocaine produced in Colombia makes use of coca imported from Bolivia, meaning “Colombian cocaine” is not always so Colombian after all.

    14) “Although friction persists over these and other issues, bilateral relations have improved…”

    Yes, over the last few years, bilateral relations have improved, though Morales remains an extremely outspoken critic of U.S. policy, albeit often justifiably. And so long as Morales makes clear the DEA is unwelcome in Bolivia, and Washington, for its part, perpetuates its unwarranted crusade against the coca leaf, such friction is certain to continue.

    Theresa Martin,

    Thank you for your comment, but I take umbrage with your contention that my article is inaccurate, and especially that it is dishonest. I would strongly urge you to reread it, as you have interpreted it in precisely the opposite way in which it was meant. There is no “underlying concept that promotes coca as a harmful plant,” and in fact I agree with you that eradication is not the answer, while decriminalization may well be.

    Reply

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