US and Bolivia Sign Bilateral Anti-drug Agreement

Some points on the new agreement from the GOB information service:

According to the Bolivian government the total amount of antidrug assistance is 33,820,000 dollars, a 25 percent reduction from previous years.

 
Ambassador Goldberg stated that there are over 26,000 hectares in the country, which is over the 12,000 hectare limit established by Law 1008.  The ambassador said that "The US wants policies that lower instead of increasing coca in Bolivia, so it is not good that Bolivia is talking about increasing coca cultivation."  However, the government is going to increase the legal limit to 20,000 which will simply legalize existing coca crops – not allow for more production. 

 
He warned that although Bolivia plans to industrialize the excess coca resulting from the increase in cultivation, "they will never be able to compete with the prices offered by drug traffickers." He said that they are still waiting for the legal market study to be carried out.

 
The Bolivian government complained that they had complied with their antidrug goals, and that they did not deserve a reduction in funding.

 

The agreement includes:

 
"Strengthening the existing mechanisms to carry out the war on drugs, terrorism, and other organized crime.”  Apparently the stipulation on terrorism in not new in the language of these agreements. What IS new is pressure for individual communities to fight to block terrorism as a prerequisite for funding.  This comes at a time when the Bolivian, US, and Peruvian press have suggested the presence of groups like Sendero Luminoso and MRTA in Bolivia.  This is something to watch.

 
The US agrees to:

 

*         Maintenance and improvement of basic infrastructure, logistical support, health care, and other things.

 

*         Strengthen the FECLN, UMOPAR and other special units.

 

*         Support the Joint Task Force, The General Directorate for Integrated Development of Coca (Digprococa), and the Ecological Police.