Category Archives: AIN Posts

CAN YOU GET RICH FROM THE BOLIVIAN COCAINE TRADE? COCAINE PASTE PRODUCTION IN THE CHAPARE

This piece was written by AIN research fellow Thomas Grisaffi during his Drugs, Security, and Democracy Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council.

Written by Thomas Grisaffi[i]                                                

In October 2013, Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Bolivia under President Evo Morales is turning into a rogue-state, awash with drug money.[ii]  The Bolivian press has argued that cocaine production sites are growing “like mushrooms”[iii] and that coca farmers are a class of “nouveau riche” peasants who spend their ill-gotten drug money on luxury cars, parties, and lavish houses.[iv] And it’s not just the press – ex-President Jorge Quiroga recently accused the Chapare coca growers’ federations, and by extension the Morales government, of protecting illicit cocaine production.[v]

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US Book Tour with Bolivian Author and Activist, Felix Muruchi and Co-Author Linda Farthing

In October and November, Bolivian author and activist, Felix Muruchi will be speaking in the northeastern US and Chicago area about current process of social change.  He is co-author with Benjamin Kohl and Linda Farthing of a personal history called From the Mines to the Streets (Texas, 2011, http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/kohfro).  Felix’s personal history as a miner, construction worker, student and union activist, nonprofit organization, political prisoner and later candidate, and most recently indigenous rights lawyer provides an extraordinary lens to grasp Bolivian struggles for social justice.

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Held to a Different Standard: The US Decertifies Bolivia

All cocaine-producing countries are equal; but some are more equal than others.

The White House’s decision to “decertify” Bolivia’s drug control efforts for the sixth time is no surprise.  Since Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2008, the US has portrayed Bolivia as uncooperative and incapable of curtailing illicit drug production and trafficking.  The White House’s corresponding Memorandum of Justification lacks objectivity and attempts to hold Bolivia to higher standards than Peru and Colombia (which are both fully certified), or even the US.  As a result, as in previous years, it fails to acknowledge that although problems persist, Bolivia has made steady progress in drug control according to the US’s own yardsticks.

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Bolivian Prison Deaths Highlight Flaws in Judicial and Penitentiary Systems [with VIDEO]

Please take a look into the life of nonviolent drug inmates in Bolivian jails in this video clip [El Mario – Las Cárceles de Bolivia], developed in collaboration with Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw of Cocaine Prison.

On September 11, 2013, President Morales signed a pardon decree designed to benefit between 1,000-2,000 inmates.  The Bolivian congress must still approve the measure. (AIN will post a summary and analysis of the decree soon.)  The pardon decree was a response to an August 23rd riot-turned-fire that killed 35 people in Palmasola prison, including a small child.  A small group of prisoners from the maximum-security block of this Santa Cruz prison attacked other inmates, using kitchen propane tanks as flamethrowers.  Fire spread in the prison, leaving many dead and 58 people with 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns over most of their bodies.

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Constitutional Tribunal to Rule on Bolivia’s Abortion Prohibition: Religious and Political Debate Eclipses Public Health Crisis

Constitutional Tribunal to Rule on Bolivia’s Abortion Prohibition: Religious and Political Debate Eclipses Public Health Crisis

The Bolivian Constitutional Tribunal is considering the constitutionality of the country’s abortion legislation.  The emotionally charged and morally focused debate in Bolivia has eclipsed public health crisis of abortion and the risks that Bolivian women face trying to exert control over their bodies.  Lack of access to and information about sexual and reproductive health combined with cultural taboos and widespread sexual violence put women’s health at risk and severely limit their choices.  Examining data about abortion and sexual and reproductive health provides a fact-based perspective about the health issues and complicated social dynamics surrounding abortion.

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A Tribute to Benjamin Kohl

The Andean Information Network would like to add its voice to the resounding expressions of deep sadness over of the death of Benjamin Kohl and the tributes to his memory.

Ben was one of the primary driving forces behind AIN, along with his wife, co-founder Linda Farthing. Without their impetus and caring and the support of the rest of Ben’s family, AIN would not exist today. A loving spouse, father and friend, as well as a skilled scholar and dedicated advocate, he spent his life dedicated to promoting social justice and a more profound understanding of Bolivia.  Always available for advice, analysis, moral support, and often sorely-needed perspective, Ben’s contribution to our efforts was unwavering. We would like to express our condolences and solidarity to his family, who have always been there for AIN for over two decades.  We will miss him every day and will work to honor his memory.

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US ONDCP Retroactively Reduced Coca Cultivation Estimates 2005-2011

The ONDCP has also retroactively  (and without any explanation) reduced it’s estimates for Bolivian coca cultivation from 2005-2011 (the years since Morales’s election).   I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I wonder if they will revise all the critiques of dramatic increases in coca production in the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report?

Source: ONDCP Coca in the Andes

Coca Cultivation in Colombia vs. Bolivia: Recently Revised US Statistics

Although the US frequently pats Colombia on the back for coca reduction and anti-drug efforts, Bolivia’s coca cultivation is substantially lower than Colombia’s, especially when factoring in the 12,000 hectares of coca destined for licit uses.  In Colombia, there is a much smaller traditional use, and no legal designation for licit coca.

Recently revised US statistics on coca cultivation in the Colombia and Bolivia (not destined for traditional use):

Source: ONDCP Coca in the Andes

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