Coca is not cocaine
Coca is the sacred leaf of the Andean people, commonly used for chewing, making coca tea and relieving the effects of altitude sickness, hunger and common ailments. Cocaine, a European invention, made through the processing of the coca leaf with other chemicals is a harmful drug that causes serious problems throughout the world. For more detailed information
Economic Dependency and the War on Drugs
The weak Bolivian economy is extremely dependent on international aid, particularly from the United States and international lending institutions that the U.S. influences. Such aid is conditioned by the U.S., and tied to the War on Drugs. Bolivia is under extreme pressure from the United States to meet antidrug objectives, in order to continue receiving much-needed funding. As a result, the social and economic impacts of the War on Drugs are largely overlooked, as counternarcotics goals repeatedly take precedence over respect for human rights. For more detailed information
REPORT: Drug War Monitor, July 2002. This is a publication of the Washington Office on Latin America’s “Drugs, Democracy and Human Rights” project, which examines the impact of drug trafficking and U.S. international drug control policies on human rights and democratization trends throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. WOLA Drug War Monitor
REPORT: Children of Law 1008. By the Andean Information Network. December, 1996. 82 pages. Available in English and Spanish. A research project on the living conditions of children in the men's and women's prisons in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This report illustrates the injustices and human rights violations that occur as a result of the U.S. supported Law 1008.
Allen, Catherine. The Hold Life Has: Coca and Cultural Identity in an Andean Community. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988.
Burchard, Roderick E. Coca Chewing and Diet. Current Anthropology 33: 1-15, 1992.
Davila, Amanda. Participation, Not Eradication. In Why People Grow Drugs. Michael Smith ed. PANOS, 1990.
Healy, Kevin. Coca, the State, and the Peasantry in Bolivia, 1982-1988. Journal of
Interamerican Studies and World Affairs. 30: 105-26, 1988.
Political Ascent of Bolivia's Peasant Coca Leaf Producers. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 33: 87-121, 1991.
·The U.S. government should evaluate the effectiveness of the current source country supply-side strategy in the war on drugs and acknowledge its demonstrated failure to reduce drug consumption in the United States.
· The U.S. should recognize studies that have determined that domestic education, prevention, and rehabilitation programs are more effective in altering drug consumption, and accordingly address the demand side of the war on drugs.
· International drug control policy should place higher priority on promoting a stable, civilian government in Bolivia than on meeting coca eradication goals.
Population: 8,973,281 (2004, estimated); 9,827,522 (2007, projected)
Indigenous population: : 60% (Quechua 30%, Aymara 25%, Other 5%)
Official languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani
Per capita GNP: $900, the poorest in South America
Life expectancy: 65.14 years, (the lowest in South America and second lowest in the western hemisphere)
Area: 424, 164 Sq. Mi. (size of Texas and California together, Ontario, or twice the size of France)
Geography: Semitropical forest (70%), Andean highlands plateau (10%), mountains (15%), fertile valleys (5%)
CARANAVI, Bolivia (AP) — On a steep slope in the Andes' eastern foothills, Paolina Quispe choked back tears as soldiers yanked her coca plants one by one from the dry soil.
A year ago she voted for Evo Morales, head of the coca growers' unions. But she says he has changed since becoming president.
"Most people here say Evo has tricked us, Evo has sold us out," said Quispe, 28.
Quispe and many other coca farmers as well as officials in Washington assumed during Morales' campaign that his victory would mean an end to years of coca eradication efforts. But the reality is more subtle, as Morales has taken a middle path — attacking cocaine while gamely charting a new course for the leaf that Bolivians have chewed for millennia as a mild stimulant.
During his campaign Morales promised to redistribute 23 million hectares within five years. The new law stipulates that land that is not currently serving an economic or social function may be allocated to indigenous or campesino communities with insufficient or no land. The legislation follows the basic land tenure principles specified in the existing Bolivian constitution, which does not legally recognize massive landholdings (latifundia) and grants the state the right to expropriate and redistribute land. The law provides economic compensation to landowners. Bolivian officials clarify that the initiative will primarily focus on properties larger than 120 acres. Although the U.S. mainstream press has characterized it as "radical" and MAS has made repeated statements attacking the landholding elite, the law passed this week simply modifies the 1996 law of the Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada government, and does not represent a dramatic change in land policy. What concerns the political opposition and large-scale landowners, though, is that it appears that this government will actually implement the policy, which had been ineffectual and subject to corruption and favoritism in the past. The initiative’s success will depend on the Morales administration’s’ capacity to transparently and objectively implement and interpret the law, and the ability of all parties to put aside their fondness for inflammatory rhetoric and polarized positions in favor of a transparent, just policy.
The delegation found that in the Chapare coca growing region, the new government's policy of limiting coca production is yielding positive results and the Bolivian government will likely meet its coca reduction target for the year. The lack of confrontation and violence has contributed to an environment conducive to economic development. At the national level, stepped up interdiction efforts have resulted in significant increases in illicit drug seizures.
However, the continued use of the Bolivian military in coca reduction efforts and U.S. pressure to meet eradication targets has led to violence in other coca growing regions. On September 29 in the Vandiola Yungas, two coca growers were killed in a confrontation with members of a joint military-police eradication force. The ongoing conflict illustrates the complex difficulties that the government faces in implementing its coca strategy beyond the Chapare. It also underscores the importance of community cooperation in carrying out coca reduction efforts, and the need to remove military forces from such efforts and to ensure respect for human rights.