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November 27, 2001

Narco News 2001

Coca Growers

Study Proposal

Bolivia Coca Summit Ends;

US Ambassador Mocks Talks

Government Threatens to Begin
Forced Eradication Again Today
Coca Growers Vigil Outside of Coca Summit in Cochabamba

Narco News Analysis: During two days of talks with coca growers, the Bolivian government made an offer, not yet well-defined, to compensate coca growers to develop alternate crops. The coca growers agreed to bring the proposal to the communities, but the government, publicly prodded by US Ambassador Manuel Rocha to ignore the talks, threatens to resume eradication today; an act of aggression that would make it impossible for the growers to discuss the proposal in the communities because it will spark, instead, resistance and more blockades.

Whether the "Coca Summit" and the new government proposal were serious ventures, or simply publicity stunts attempting to break the blockades of highways by the coca growers and other popular citizen movements, will be determined by the government. An act of aggression - the resumption of forced eradication by military and paramilitary troops - would merely return Bolivia to the social unrest it experienced last week; a tumult that has placed the regime of President Jorge Quiroga in danger of losing any claim on legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the clock counts down to Quiroga's scheduled December 6th meeting in Washington with US President George W. Bush.

Tensions are high in the Chapare region of Bolivia. Below, are translations from today's press accounts in Bolivia, explaining the details of the government proposal, the response of the coca growers, and the meddlesome behavior by US Ambassador Manuel Rocha, who like a pompous viceroy from colonial times, publicly insists that the "Coca Summit" meant nothing, that democracy be damned, that Bolivia must comply with US orders... or else.

Coca Growers Study Proposal

From the daily La Razon, La Paz, Bolivia

November 27, 2001

Translated by The Narco News Bulletin

An improved proposal for alternative development made yesterday by the national government was received by the coca growers leaders in a climate of total distrust, during the second day of the Coca Talks in the Don Bosco Coliseum.

Although some coca growers' leaders rejected the plan upon its proposal, others guarded their silence and Congressman Evo Morales declared that the proposal "will have to be studied and debated in the next two weeks. While the debate lasts, the government must suspend the eradication of coca crops."

Morales said that the government proposal will be explained to the base communities and it is them who will decide. "In my personal opinion, this type of proposal can not be analyzed in an hour or a day. It is necessary to debate it while the eradication of coca is suspended and, also, they cannot ask for 'zero coca' (the US Embassy's slogan) in exchange," he warned.

The government's proposal, according to Agriculture Secretary Walter Nuñez, not only attempts to protect the economy of the farmers of the Chapare while they dedicate themselves to the production of alternative crops, but also cares for the sale of the crops.

The Proposal

The proposal has two phases: The Compensation Plan and the creation of a Stabilization Fund for the prices of alternative products. The requirement to give both is 'zero coca' in the Chapare.

As substitute crops to coca, the farmers must choose one, two or three products from the five recommended by the Alternative Development Program (banana, palm, maracuya fruit, pepper and pineapple). If the grower wants, he can add other products to the five recommended ones, but he must first demonstrate the technical, economic and social viability of them. The only condition to widen the line of products is that the land will be cultivated with the new product as the next crop, that it must show results of an income equivalent or more than 425 Bolivianos a month.

According to data of the coca growers' federations, the cato of coca that the farmers of Chapare are seeking generates an income of 425 Bolivianos a month, or $62 dollars and 30 cents. The proposal calls for the growers to receive between 71 dollars and 80 cents to 81 dollars and 70 cents per month dedicated to the planting and harvesting of between 0.3 and 1.5 hectares of one of the alternative products. Between the planning and the harvest, there is a period of growth of the crops in which the farmers will not receive income for the eradication of coca. To compensate for the cut in income, the government, through the Alternative Development Program, will pay the family 500 Bolivianos monthly, equivalent to the days worked. This payment will be made for 15 consecutive months and according to the Agriculture Secretary it will "avoid that the farmer has problems due to the lowering of his income because of the loss of the cato of coca, because he will receive a monthly salary until the first harvest of the new product." During the planting and harvesting of the alternative products (over 15 months), the farmers will also receive seeds, labor, genetic material, compost, tools and technical assistance valued between $2,331 and $2,959 dollars. "For example, if he is dedicated to only 1.5 acres of maracuya, the farmer will receive the equivalent of $2,959.50 dollars in labor, seeds, technical assistance and materials."

Stabilization Fund

The second phase of the proposal is the Stabilization Fund for the prices of alternative products. "Taking into account that the producers of alternative crops confront cyclical falls in the price of the products, the government proposes the creation of a mechanism of stabilization that will allow the compensation for low prices that the market sometimes pays for legal products," said Nuñez. For example, if a quantity of bananas costs $1.50 but the market prices fall and pay only 70 cents, the government will pay the difference of 80 cents so that the grower obtains the fair price of $1.50," he assured. To set the prices of alternative products in the national and international markets, a price fixing mechanism will be created…

Full of Distrust

Congressman Evo Morales said that the government proposal inspires distrust because to think of 500 Bolivianos monthly that it hopes to pay per family, more than $40 million dollars will be needed to sustain 40,000 coca growing families. "How can we believe that this money will be there when they already promised us $80 million dollars to begin the alternative development program, but those funds still don't exist," he recalled.

He said that the proposal doesn't seem very sustainable but admitted that it is necessary to debate it. "With so many promises broken, to think in terms of $7,500 bolivianos per family over 15 months is difficult to believe." The receipt of this money from the international community will cause it to arrive late, and the insecurity in achieving its distribution, puts the proposal in question among the coca growing sectors. "It would be irresponsible to accept this proposal in exchange for 'zero coca' because there is a legal commerce for the coca plant, nationally and internationally," he added.

If the government doesn't suspend the eradication of coca in the Chapare while this proposal is debated, violence will once again invade the region, "although I am disposed to continue dialoguing," said Morales.

The Viceroy Mocks

the Peace Summit

From the daily La Prensa, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

November 27, 2001

Translated by The Narco News Bulletin

Embassy Insists that the Coca

Talks Won't Change Anything

The United States government is certain that the Coca Summit won't change the course of the eradication of crops in the Chapare and the fight against drug trafficking. The Quiroga administration opened talks with the coca growers of that region in which the Law of the Regime on Coca and Controlled Substances is being debated. To speak with the farmers, the government suspended eradication of the crops until today, Tuesday.

"We don't have the slightest worry because everything is going to remain in march as we, the governments of Bolivia and the United States, agreed in the cooperation established to be complied with under the Dignity Plan," said the US Ambassador in La Paz, Manuel Rocha.

The representative applauded the position of President Jorge Quiroga and of Cardinal Julio Terrazas because they said that a cato of coca is the same as a kilo of cocaine.

"We see in the opinions of important people, like the President of the Republic and Cardinal Terrazas that there is a consensus that what coca represents in the Chapare is nothing more or less than cocaine."

The diplomat's criteria, behind the proposal of the coca producers and their reluctance to accept alternative products, there are "created interests" of narco-trafficking. "We have brought a very generous support to alternative development that has been frustrated by the Number One Opponents who insist on conducting blockades."

From the daily Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, Bolivia

November 27, 2001

Translated by The Narco News Bulletin

Government offers Compensation

Evo Refuses it All

The government tested a new and tentative offer to the coca producers yesterday during the meeting over the bush that occurred in Cochabamba: to pay each family 500 Bolivianos per month and to create a system of compensation to the producers who participate in alternative development programs if the market doesn't pay a referential price.

But the "deep distrust" of the coca growers is evident. The Archbishop of Cochabamba, Monsignor Tito Solari recognizes it, and it is confirmed by the statements of leader and congressman Evo Morales Ayma: "If the government wants to pay this amount, it will need at least $40 million Bolivianos at present," he said.

Later, he said that the proposal must be analyzed in the communities, and to come to an agreement more time will be needed, at least two or three weeks, a period in which the eradication of coca will have to remain suspended. But the government doesn't see that possibility as likely.

These were the positions exchanged at the conclusion of the second day of the Coca and Alternative Development talks in the Tropic, that occurred at Don Bosco college in Cochabamba behind closed doors. Meanwhile, outside of the building, hundreds of coca growers were awaiting the results. In the morning, they marched throughout the city, slowing the circulation of traffic…

…And even if the proposal would be accepted, there still won't be "zero coca," said Morales. "Each family (with five members) consumes a pound of coca a week as a food. In Chapare, there are 40,000 families and in all of Cochabamba state there are 150,000 families, for which at least 200,000 pounds per week will be needed," said Morales, trying to demonstrate the legality of the production of coca just for the consumption by the peasant farmers.

Background Info

Nov. 25, 2001: Bolivia Suspends

Coca Eradication; Talks Begin

Nov. 22, 2001: US Congress

"Disturbed" by Events

Nov. 16, 2001: Bolivia Burning

Archives of Last Year's Press Briefings on Bolivia:

10/5-10/2000: Five Days That Shook Bolivia

10/3-4/2000: Generals Don't Want to Fight Bolivian People

10/1-2/2000: Zero Hour in Bolivia

9/29-30/2000: Bolivia, US, "Narco-tize" the Conflict

9/28/2000: Spotlight on Bolivia, in Context of Perú and Colombia

The Fall of AP's Bolivia Correspondent:

McFarren Part I

McFarren Part II

Washington Post Report on McFarren's Fall

For More Narco News, Click Here

Planting and Harvesting Authentic Journalism