Brazil Border Piece Gives Bolivia a Bum Rap

The recent Washington Post article, “Brazil tries to fight cocaine trafficking at huge, porous borders,” misrepresents Bolivia’s active collaboration with Brazil on drug control.  Juan Forero reports that, along with Peru, Bolivia’s “coca production increased dramatically in recent years.”  In fact, Bolivia’s coca crop is shrinking–13 % in 2011, according the US, while coca production in both Peru and Colombia far surpass that.

Forero highlights Bolivia’s contribution to Brazil’s cocaine crisis, but omits that is has signed multiple multilateral and bilateral agreements with Brazil to address these issues.  He highlights US intelligence sharing with Brazil, but overlooks a trilateral coca monitoring agreement that also includes Bolivia in shared intelligence–something President Obama called, “the kind of collaboration we need.”

He is right that Brazil’s methods obtained some of the same results as the US hardline approach, but it is more than incarceration—it is crucial to understand the absolute folly of militarily controlling the porous Brazilian-Bolivian border, even longer than that between the US and Mexico, and the high human costs it will provoke.  When Latin American leaders are actively challenging the US-style “Drug War,” the focus on the militarization of the Brazilian border may do more harm than good.

Please read “Bolivian Drug Control Efforts: Genuine Progress, Daunting Challenges” (December 2012, co-authored by Kathryn Ledebur, Director, Andean Information Network and Coletta Youngers, Senior Fellow, Washington Office on Latin America) for further analysis on Bolivia’s recent