8 de enero de 2013

Pending issues on the Bolivia's latest coca Policy

Al Jazeera has dedicated a 25-minute programme praising Bolivia's latest coca eradication policy.

Further down on this post you can watch Inside Story Americas panel emphasizing the apparent success of the new approach under Evo Morales administration, as in opposed to the United States narcotic policies in the Region.

Latest results, acknowledged by both the US Government and the United Nations, are showing a reduction of coca crops of 12% in Bolivia (2011). This coca plantations' reduction is also achieved under the so-called concerted programme (importantly to stress non-violent intervention), and the social involvement by coca growers in a form of self policing.

Early results reported are outstanding indeed considering that during previous Governments the coca eradication strategies had brought conflict and violence, frequently sponsored by the failed US narcotic intervention through the DEA.

It is also positive to stress that coca-zero approach is acknowledged by international stakeholders as non-viable in the Andean Region, not only due to cultural and legal consumption but also as a consequence of complex (legal and illegal) market relations.

Bolivia's new model seem to be effective in the short-run, at least according to the first report.

The model, however, is quite unique as the social, cultural, economic and political relations are not the same in neighbouring countries or Colombia (not to mention elsewhere in the world), and hardly could be replicated elsewhere.

Furthermore, there are fundamental issues yet not tackled in order to claim a certain degree of success:
  • Coca-growing reduction does not necessarily mean a decrease on cocaine production.
  • Cocaine transit from Peru is becoming another strategic feature of Bolivia's territory in the illegal global cocaine flux.
  • The study on traditional and local consumption of coca has yet not been published and there are direct stakeholders (like cocaleros themselves) involved in adjusting data.
  • What is the impact  of the traditional demand of coca beyond Bolivia's borders, particularly Northern Argentina and some neighbouring regions in Peru?
  • It should be clearly specified the difference in terms of production, demand, quality, consumption, environmental impact and also distribution between traditional areas (mainly in Yungas of La Paz), transitional areas (such as Chapare) and illegal areas (currently expanding over National Parks).

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