The Narco News Bulletin
Name of Our Country is América"
October 4, 2000
Said Reluctant to Fight Bolivian People
or Death," the Battle Cry
From the daily Los Tiempos,
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
Issue Unites the Resistance
The slogan "Coca
or Death" yesterday became the glue of the alliance of resistance
that coca-growers, teachers, peasants and the Water Coordination
movement of Cochabamba. In spite of the desperate efforts by
the government to mine the solidarity of the bloc and the advances
in negotiations with the peasants, what clearly has surged in
the third week of the crisis was that President Banzer finds
himself in a dead end with no visible exit.
Washington had to reiterate
its support for the government (for the second time in ten days)
over one of its major challenges in the South American drug war.
The uncertainty rose to
new levels still with the mysterious appearance of a supposed
communiqué of colonels and generals of the Armed Forces
who demand a "political solution" to the country's
worst crisis. The communiqué was not disowned by the military
The wave of violence could
grow still more in the coming hours. Fifteen tanks advance toward
Chapare. The coca-growers await them with slingshots and and
have mined the bridges, as in a war.
* * *
Coca Growers Mine the Bridges
of the tropic rejected any government proposal that does not
permit them to grow at least a kato (a 40 by 40 meter parcel)
of coca. In the photo by the daily Los Tiempos a campfire along the
blockade in the Tropic of Cochabamba.
Villa Tunari y Shinahota
| Los Tiempos.- As if preparing for a grand battle, the coca
growers of Chapare challenge the government, begin to arm themselves
with everything available and say that they are ready to resist
any intent by the Armed Forces to unblock the roads. Yesterday,
police and soldiers, according to the ANF news agency, discovered
that below the bridges in Chimoré and Ivirgarzama there
The Congressman and coca
grower Evo Morales admitted that the rank-and-file is ahead of
the leaders. "If this is true, we find ourselves in front
of the next civil war, for fault of the government that has not
solved the crisis," he said, making it clear that he had
not ordered this tactic.
Less than 24 hours after
five coca grower leaders sustained a frustrating meeting with
three government ministers in Chimoré, the representatives
of the six coca growing federations of the the Tropic of Cochabamba
shared the results of these meetings with their rank-and-file
bases. The response was the same that Evo Morales had earlier
said: "Coca or Death." The coca growers began to entrench
themselves with everything, the women wove slingshots for their
husbands and sons and informed that women and children will also
join the feared resistance.
Yesterday in Chapare a
rumor said that the government would clean out the blockades
with small tanks (lightly armored vehicles similar to tanks).
However, nothing happened.
In all cases, the coca
growers accept the possibility of a military invasion, and predict
that the confrontations wil be in El Castillo. In the morning
two helicopters flew over the area and placed the coca growers
on guard. The logic is to not show their faces, but to blockade.
is No Rupture
Morales made clear that
the dialogue with the government has not ruptured, although its
initial proposal of ceasing all the pressure tactics in exchange
for the government accepting a cato of coca per family is maintained.
This response was communicated to the Church, mediating the talks,
and it is anticipated that the government will respond negatively.
"If the government
minister is not convinced, let him send his soldiers," said
It was also proposed that
the dialogue commission defines the case of the cato of coca
not in 15 days, as was proposed on Tuesday, but in three. To
prolongue it for more time is to prolonge the conflict, he said.
Employees of Governmental
and Non-Governmental organizations linked to "alternative
development" projects began a virtual exodus from Chapare
in fear of confrontations and assaults.
The employees of these
institutions fear that the coca growers will occupy their offices
at any moment as a form of protest against the entire project
of alternative development, which the peasants consider a trick.
The fleeing functionaries
are leaving their belongings and machines in the office of the
Rural Patrol Mobile Unit (UMOPAR) and took a helicopter to fly
over the blockades. The passage from Chimoré to Cochabamba
costs $450 US dollars and has room for four passengers.
* * *
is immoral to ask for compensation for eradication"
La Paz ANF News Agency.-
Bolivia cannot hope that the International Community will compensate
it for the approximately $500 million dollars of losses that
the eradication of coca has caused. The loss of the money that
came from the coca crops of Chapare in the Bolivian economy --
calculated by the government of the US as $250 million dollars
-- does not deserve consideration because it is "immoral."
This analysis was offered by the US Embassy in Bolivia.
US Ambassador Victor Manuel
Rocha declared that "the loss of illicit economy is the
loss of a criminal economy, and for this it has no moral validity
and does not deserve to be considered in a discussion because
no government would respect it."
...Ambassador Rocha said
that the deepening of alternative development will "give
honorable work to those who are still in the business of coca
cultivation in Chapare."
Military Communiqué Causes Confusion
La Paz | Los Tiempos.-
A group of unidentified generals and colonels of the Army supposedly
demanded that the government of general Hugo Banzer assume "political
responsibility" for the deaths of more than ten civilians
during the violent repression of road blockaders. As of the closing
of this edition, the spokesman for the Armed Forces in Miraflores
would not comment as to the authenticity or falsity of the document.
According to the PAT TV
news, it received the communiqué a little before noon
yesterday, and the military officials demand a change in the
cabinet. They recommended that the new government team have people
who are "capable" to negotiate "with legitimate
representation, but above all embody honesty." The criticism
of "corruptos" inside the cabinet was underlined.
The worry is centered
in the damage to the Army's institutional credibility as a result
of the repressive actions. The position was broadcast by PAT
TV, noting that the communiqué's sentiment is based on
the result of the operations of April when "the military
had to take charge" on "Black Saturday," when
in Cochabamba and the high plains four civilians and one official
For the military, according
to the TV station, the current problem is political. Consequently,
the solution should be political, not military.
Genuine or apocryphal,
the announcement is the first in the name of the military since
the crisis exploded two weeks ago.
"The Armed Forces
are subordinates of Civil Power and this power should know how
to use them, because it would be cowardice to use them and later
blame them for bad work," said the document read by the
Bolivia Drug War Story Today:
From The Guardian of London
October 4, 2000:
Spedding Released from Prison
A British anthropologist
jailed in La Paz two years ago on drugs charges has been released
on bail after reforms in the Bolivian penal code.
Alison Spedding, 38, who
is a novelist and a former university lecturer, received a 10-year
sentence in 1998 when a judge ruled that 2kg of cannabis found
at her home was intended for trafficking. She was allowed to
leave jail last Friday on payment of a £1,300 surety and
on condition she stays in La Paz until the supreme court makes
a final decision on her case.
Speaking from a friend's
house yesterday, she said: "I am out but I wouldn't use
the word 'free'. I don't know when my case will be heard, so
it is not that great."
Ms Spedding's arrest and
imprisonment shocked the academic community in Britain, who petitioned
the Foreign Office to demand her release. She did not deny possession
of the cannabis but said that it was for personal use.
It has been argued that
her imprisonment was political since she has been a prominent
opponent of the Bolivian government's crackdown on peasant coca
farmers. Ms Spedding has lived in Bolivia since 1989 and taught
at La Paz's San Andres university, specialising on the Aymara
culture, as well as writing the historical-fantasy trilogy The
Road and the Hills....
October 3, 2000
Last Update at
9:40 p.m. ET (see below)
Titanic is Sinking
Plot to Divide
Bolivian Social Movements Fails
Could Begin Thursday
The War on Drugs
Meets its Waterloo
The historic drama unfolding in the South American
nation of Bolivia deserves the attention and support of all América.
It is there that Bolívar's dream is awakening. The impact
on the hemisphere, indeed the world, will be felt for years to
History is knocking on
América's door once again.
But where is the US media?
Where are its correspondents, special reporters, camera crews
and helicopters? The United States press corps has made a profound
error in believing those -- from the US State Department to the
Associated Press organization -- who have signaled, blindly and
incorrectly, that the social revolt in Bolivia will be quelled
by their troops in La Paz, above all, by the dictator-turned-"president"
Let history take note
of the words of yet another "unnamed State Department source"
quoted by Marcela Sanchez of the Washington post last week:
A senior State Department
official, who asked not to be named, recognized the current problem
in Bolivia but didn't think it is "all that terrible."
"We have full confidence
President [Hugo] Banzer and his government will get through this,"
he added. The official indicated that he sympathized with the
coca growers but added that "We cannot forget that what
they are doing is illegal."
Let history also note
what could and should be the final report from the "cacique
journalist" Peter McFarren of the Associated Press in La
Paz, when against all factual record, he wrote this past weekend
that the movement is based on "anti-white sentiment."
Narco News vows: This will be the last unchecked lie by Mr. McFarren,
who has no business posing as a journalist when his multi-million
dollar empire in Bolivia is among the powers of the corrupted
status quo that seek, desperately, to quell a revolt that will
not be stopped. Coming this week on Narco News: The Untold Story
of AP's Peter McFarren.
strategy had been to divide the social movements: to treat the
striking teachers, the water warriors, the coca-growers, the
unions and the regional movements as they are treated inside
the United States: as "interest groups." They tried
to buy off the teachers and other groups and isolate the coca-growers
leadership to justify the final bloody solution. Indeed, this
beast in its death throes could lash out against the Bolivian
people with brutal violence at any moment.
But what Power forgot
is that, even in this 21st century, there exists the human spirit,
"national conscience," the moral of solidarity, all
the values that Power and its mediated armies have tried to stamp
out in its thirst to "globalize" the planet under economic
dominion with the drug war as its sword.
In recent days, the Banzer
government made surgical concessions to various fronts in the
movement in its attempt to isolate and ready the coca-growers
for destruction. It signed an agreement with the rural teachers
union leaders to give them more money. It pledged to respect
the April agreements on water policy that it had already broken.
It feigned a "suspension" of construction of three
new military bases in the Chapare region in an attempt to calm
the local public outrage. And Washington's lips did not even
move in its ventriloquy when Banzer announced: The coca crop
will be totally eradicated, even that which produces coca leaf
-- and not cocaine -- for safe peasant consumption.
All the players were in
place to crush the movement. And with no other major media present,
AP's McFarren was set to control the English-language spin, to
dress up even massacres in the perfume of an "anti-drug"
Power's maneuver, however,
did not go as planned. The 80,000 striking urban teachers condemned
the rural teachers leadership for selling out the movement. The
50,000 rural teachers followed by condemning their own leaders
and refusing to go along with the deal. They, and the popular
movements to preserve Bolivia's water supplies, announced that
there will be no solution until the demands by all the movement's
sectors, including the coca-growers, are resolved. The coca-growers
and peasants continued the blockades that paralyze the nation
and its commerce. The urban populations in La Paz and elsewhere
took to the streets yesterday and were repelled by the tear-gasses
of the regime.
And then Banzer made his
final error. His Air Force had been working overtime to fly food
into the capital of La Paz and other cities: road access is already
a distant memory. But the food did not go to the popular markets,
which are empty. Instead, what food is available has been channeled
to the Five Star Hotels, the expensive Supermarkets and the walled
neighborhoods of the wealthy.
The great majority of
Bolivia's urban population, until now sympathetic to the social
demands in the country but unmobilized and irritated by the shortages
of basic products, has now seen what the entire regime is based
upon: The protection, at all costs, of the super wealthy class
and the US-imposed drug policy that keeps the poor and the worker
If there is any doubt
that all this madness has at its root the US-imposed war on drugs,
the report we publish today from correspondent Jim Shultz in
Cochabamba, Bolivia, makes clear that this fact is beyond doubt:
The US-backed regime of
Banzer in Bolivia has attempted, through trickery and media manipulation,
to divide and conquer the social movements. And yet it has only
made them stronger, more united, and ready. Coca-growers leader
Evo Morales yesterday sounded the battle cry: "Coca or Blood."
All popular sectors are now moving against the Banzer regime,
now joined by the urban workers to the middle class.
The professional association
of market shopkeepers has just delivered the final warning: Meet
the social demands of all the sectors, or Thursday they will
shut down the markets. In other words; General Strike.
The passengers of Banzer's
Titanic will not go down without a fight. The drug war is, by
definition, the Titanic as policy: a ship that saves only a few
and damns the many.
Do not turn your eyes
from the great shaking events of this moment. The 21st Century
begins with a bang from below.
The US-imposed War on
Drugs meets its Waterloo on the high plains of Bolivia.
Right here, right now,
history is in the making.
...from somewhere in a
country called América,
The Narco News Bulletin
Translations and Reports
From wire services
Tuesday, October 3, 2000:
Between Coca-Growers, Teachers and Peasants Makes Solution to
the Crisis Difficult
LA PAZ (DPA y AFP). The
solidarity between coca-growers, teachers and peasants made it
difficult to find a solution for the social conflicts that have
affected Bolivia for 15 days.
Analysts expressed their
concern over this fact because it creates a situation where "all
the demands must be solved or the pressure tactics will not cease."
They recalled that the
principal leader of the rural teachers, Fredd Núñez,
said very clearly that they will accept the official offer of
a bonus of 1,500 bolivianos ($238 US dollars) in two payments,
but this does not mean that the general strike will be lifted,
nor the blockade of roads, until the peasant demands are met.
The professors accepted
their two bonuses, but conditioned their return to classes on
the suspension of the road blockades by the farmers. In such,
the congressman and agricultural leader Evo Morales predicted
that they will insist that the government permit the farming
of a "cato" (40 by 40 square meter plot) per family,
so that the families can survive.
According to Morales,
this is the only way that 35,000 coca-producing families can
make a living. But they are ready to listen to the offers of
the government that could mean a real alternative.
The Executive Branch is
disposed to cede some more to the coca-growers who have blocked
the roads since September 18 in protest against the eradication
of coca and the construction of military bases in the tropical
region of Chapare, the major producing center of the bush in
The confrontations in
the past two weeks between peasants and combined forces of the
Army and the police have caused 10 deaths, 128 wounded and an
undetermined number of prisoners, according to the Permanent
Assembly of Human Rights of Bolivia (APDHB).
The Assembly said that
the most recent victim was found on Saturday in the town of Vinto,
near Cochabamba, a distance of 403 kilometers from La Paz, where
the peasant Benito Espinoza, 15-years-old, died from a bullet
wound. The facts were confirmed by opposition congressman Manuel
Suárez, chairman of the Committee on the Constitution.
Another civic organization
threatened to hold mass mobilizations in the state of Cochabamba
if the government of president Hugo Banzer does not disactivate
the social convulsion by Wednesday.
The Coordinator for Defense
of Water and Life gave the government 48 hours to attend to the
demands of the teachers, coca-growers and peasants, said its
spokesman Óscar Olivera.
The Catholic Church, the
Public Defender and the APDHB called upon the government and
the sectors now on strike in La Paz to begin a dialogue to seek
Tension Mounts As Roadblock Talks Continue
Updated 2:18 PM ET October
By Gilbert Le Gras
LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters)
- Tension mounted in Bolivia Tuesday as the government repeated
threats to deploy troops if coca growers, peasants and teachers
do not abandon roadblocks set up 16 days ago that have paralyzed
"We're talking, we're
working on solutions, but if we stop talking and stop seeking
solutions then we'll clear the roadblocks," Government Minister
Guillermo Fortun said, according to radio news reports.
A government-imposed noon
(1400 GMT) deadline came and went as ministers huddled with peasants
in La Paz without soldiers being deployed in the stalemate with
coca growers and teachers. Fortun said as long as talks continue
with one of three protest groups no troops would be sent to clear
Ten protesters died last
week in clashes with security forces over their demands for higher
teachers' pay, abolition of a water tax and opposition to the
eradication of coca -- the raw material used in the production
"As long as the government
is unwilling to discuss the coca issue we won't have an agreement,"
said Congressman Evo Morales, head of the coca growers union.
The situation in Bolivia
has become increasingly tense as the blockade of all roads leading
into the capital La Paz and the agricultural hubs of Santa Cruz
and Cochabamba has caused food prices to skyrocket. The Bolivian
air force said it has flown two million pounds of food to La
Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, San Borja and Cobija to restock
"These flights are
a guarantee that food stocks in La Paz won't be drawn down,"
said La Paz Mayor German Velasco.
While coca growers welcomed
a government offer not to build three army barracks in the coca-growing
Chapare region, they refused to lift roadblocks until the region's
40,000 families are allowed to grow 2.5 acres (1 hectare) each
of coca for traditional use.
Andean Indians use the
bitter leaf for religious and medicinal purposes, including easing
the pangs of hunger and thirst and coping with altitude sickness.
Some coca production is legal.
At the height of coca
production about five years ago, one in every eight Bolivians
made a living off coca. Bolivia is the world's third largest
producer of coca after Colombia and Peru.
But Bolivia, one of the
Western Hemisphere's poorest nations, has significantly reduced
coca production in the past five years in exchange for U.S. aid.
The government of President
Hugo Banzer, a military dictator of the 1970s who was elected
president in 1997, has vowed to rid the nation of illegal coca
Bolivian government ministers
have tried to present a $63 million rural development package
to the peasants which includes crop diversification as well as
the extension of electrical and telephone services to remote
But coca growers are skeptical
of government suggestions they grow pineapples and bananas instead
of the bitter leaf.
Meat prices have doubled
and the cost of some vegetables quadrupled since the roadblocks
began. Some foreign tourists have been stranded by cut-off roads
or fear of protesters.
While the government negotiated
with coca growers and peasants, talks with teachers failed after
an agreement in principle with rural teachers was reversed by
about half of the 50,000 union members.
Teachers were the government's
best hope of dividing the coalition of strikers but the rejection
of the plan by Bolivia's 80,000 urban teachers seemed to turn
The government offered
them a $40 raise for the remainder of this year and a $200 pay
hike over all of next year. Teachers earn $150-$200 a month in
this Andean nation of eight million people, where average annual
income is about $1,000.
From the daily La Razon,
La Paz, Bolivia
October 3, 2000:
Food Doesn't Come to the Markets
Supermarkets and Residential Zones are the Beneficiaries of the
Popular Markets the Shortages Continue
As of this moment, the
aerial food source established by the La Paz state government
is stocking supermarkets, hotels and part of the Southern zone
of the city. But few products reach the popular markets.
Among the 84,000 kilos
of beef and chicken, the almost 50 bags of carrots and onions
that arrived yesterday at the Military Air Transport base (TAM),
many products were shipped to hotels due to a previous agreement....
The 20,000 kilos of chicken
brought yesterday by the Sofía company were delivered
to distributors and from there the businessmen brought the foods
to the residential zones because there they pay more. The director
of the chicken business, Sofía, Rafael Sena, said that
his product goes to the markets of La Paz and El Alto, but in
the distribution chain there are middlemen who determine where
the product will go.
IN THE MARKETS
But for the majority of
the population, onions and tomatoes, those irreplaceable ingredients
of preparing ahogado and chorrellana, have become luxury items
in recent days.
The shopkeepers in El
Tejar, Rodrígues and Yungas offer their last onions at
five bolivianas per pound. The cost of tomatoes, that are brought
from Cochabamba, Santa Cruz or Rio Abajo, rose from 1.5 to 5
bolivianos per pound.
Doña Zenobia of
Ormachea, housewife in Villa Victoria, sought unsuccesfully yesterday
morning to find beef, onion, carrots or tomatoes. "The sellers
are proud if they have three or four onions. We discussed with
one of them the price and they insulted us."
the Food Warehouses Could Close
The Bolivia Federation
of Professional Organizations called for a 24 hour strike on
Thursday, October 5th, in the entire country, closing all markets.
The measure is in support of the teachers and peasants currently
in confrontation with the government. The leader of this sector,
Francisco Figueroa, made the announcement yesterday, after a
march of nearly 3,000 professionals in the Ceja of El Alto.
The principal demand of
the professionals is that the government accept talks with the
peasant leaders on their turf in Achacachi, as has proposed the
principal peasant leader Felipe Quispe....
October 2, 2000:
PROTEST BRINGS BOLIVIA TO A HALT
La Paz: Bolivian government
officials hope talks today with coca growers, teachers and peasants
will bring an end to road blocks that have choked food deliveries
and led to 10 deaths.
"I think we'll reach
an agreement but I think we could have avoided this conflict
had the government listened to the peasants' demands," the
Roman Catholic archbishop of La Paz, Jesus Juárez, told
Bolivia, one of the western
hemisphere's poorest nations, has been paralysed for the last
12 days since tens of thousands of coca growers, peasants and
teachers laid stones and boulders on highways to force the government
to address their demands.
Peasants are against a
campaign to eradicate most cultivation of coca leaf, the raw
material of cocaine. In addition, teachers want a 50% pay rise
and other protesters accuse the government of reneging on promised
pay rises to police.
Ten people have been killed
in clashes in the past week.
Three were shot at a protest
on Thursday at Huarina on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Witnesses said a Bolivian
Air Force plane opened fire on the group. Government officials
claimed the plane "only shot in the air" but they were
awaiting autopsy results to see if the fatal wounds matched the
.50-calibre bullets of the aircraft.
President Hugo Banzer
agreed to negotiate with the three groups separately over the
weekend, meeting with the coca growers in the lowland city of
Santa Cruz, teachers in La Paz and peasants in Pucarani, 30km
northwest of La Paz, near Lake Titicaca.
Talks with coca growers
are likely to prove to be the toughest of the three because of
the government's reluctance to jeopardise $US157 million in US
aid over the next two years that is contingent on wiping out
coca in the Chapare by 2002.
"The road blocks
will continue; we'll change tactics. We'll block roads north
of La Paz that lead to other departments," said Tupac Katari
peasant leader Felipe Quispe, who held a press briefing in La
Paz after hiding for 11 days.
Bolivia has proportionately
by far the largest Amerindian population of any nation in the
Americas, with more than 55% of its eight million people of native
Average annual income
in Bolivia is $US1000 ($NZ2449) and it has one of the hemisphere's
worst infant mortality rates, at 69 per thousand live births.
While all three groups
have separate specific demands, they all want the coalition government
led by Mr Banzer - a military dictator in the 1970s but who was
democratically elected in 1997 - to address the root causes of
Bolivia's chronic poverty.
"The church wanted
to negotiate everything in one package; that would be fatal.
As the president said, we're not going to stop eradicating coca
in the Chapare region and we will build military barracks there
for surveillance," Information Minister Manfredo Kempff
Mr Kempff estimated coca
sales yielded $US250 million to $US500 million to the underground
economy in a nation with a gross domestic product of $US8 billion.
"We've proposed that
they grow pineapples or bananas instead but those crops just
do not pay as well as coca, so that's the challenge we face in
Bolivia," Mr Kempff said.
Coca growers say coca
pays well, can be harvested three times a year and is easy to
transport, compared with pineapples - which spoil easily - and
bananas, which fetch only low prices.
From the French Press
7:47 p.m. EST October
Dialogue Between Government
and Coca Growers Reaches Dead End
Coca Growers' Leader Rejects
the Most Recent Official Proposal to End the Blockade of Bolivian
La Paz, Bolivia 03-OCT-00
The dialogue between the
Bolivian Government and the powerful coca growers union that
still controls the principal highway of the nation, hit a dead
end on Tuesday, after the leader of the coca growers, Congressman
Evo Morales, rejected the final official proposal.
"We have rejected
a fourth recess of two weeks that calls for the end of the road
blockade, proposed by the government," Morales affirmed
in a telephone interview from Villa Tunari in the State of Chapare,
600 kilometers east of La Paz.
The leader of 60,000 indigenous
families who survive from the cultivation of coca leaf, Morales
indicated that the coca growers " will not cede our decision
to cultivate a cato (a 40 by 40 meter parcel) of coca" for
This position, worked
on during the dialogue, was absolutely rejected by the government,
whose main claim to fame is the destruction of 90 percent of
the coca crops destined to drug trafficking from Chapare.
On another flank, the
government is still negotiating to open a dialogue with the peasants
of the high plains and valleys who remain in control of the roads
in the west and center of the country.
Updated 9:40 PM ET October
By Gilbert Le Gras, Reuters
Leader Confident Talks Will End Protests
LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters)
- Bolivian President Hugo Banzer said Tuesday the government
was close to negotiating a deal to end a protest by teachers,
peasants and coca growers that has paralyzed Bolivia's major
cities with roadblocks for 16 days.
"We're close to solving
this," Banzer said in a national radio address. "As
long as dialogue exists, there's hope for a peaceful solution
without the use of force to take down the roadblocks."
The government had threatened
to deploy soldiers to remove the roadblocks, but its noon (EDT)
deadline came and went without action despite a stalemate with
coca growers as Cabinet ministers huddled with peasants and teachers
in La Paz.
Government Minister Guillermo
Fortun said as long as talks continued with at least one of the
three protest groups, no troops would be sent to clear the highways....
"We are firmly behind
the democratic and constitutional government of President Banzer,"
U.S. Ambassador Manuel Rocha told reporters, calling the crisis
a threat to Bolivia's socioeconomic reforms.
Coca growers did not return
to the negotiating table on Tuesday. While they welcomed a government
offer not to build three army barracks in the key coca-growing
Chapare region, they refused to lift the roadblocks until the
region's 40,000 families are allowed to grow 2.5 acres (1 hectare)
of coca for traditional use.
REASSURED BY ALTERNATIVE COCA-MONITORING PLAN
U.S. diplomats said as
long as troop numbers were increased at the barracks along the
highway at either end of the Chapare region, they would be reassured
that surveillance would be sufficient to prevent the return of
coca cultivation there....
Narco News Commentary: Read between the lines of the
US and Bolivian government statements. The only way they can
end the unrest is to allow peasant families to grow a small amount
of coca per family. As US officials micro-manage the situation
from afar, insisting that a sovereign nation set up roadblocks
against its own people "along the highway at either end
of the Chapare region," they are finessing the bottom line:
coca growing may be decriminalized for small scale producers.
In other words, harm reduction in Bolivia. And yet the governments,
rather than trumpet such a move as progress, will instead go
to all lengths to claim it didn't happen.
This, of course, is only
one possible outcome of these earthshaking events. We will continue
translating and publishing the fast-breaking developments for
our readers, round the clock.
Reports As They Come In
is your war. This is your war on drugs. Any questions?
The War on Drugs
Meets its Waterloo