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Bolivia Regime Tries to

Silence Evo Morales

Congressman Denounced Banzer as Narco

Now They Want to Make Evo Disappear

January 5, 2001

Narco News 2001

The Narco News Bulletin:

"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simón Bolívar


That the drug war needs censorship to survive has been evident these days in Bolivia, where a leading member of Congress charged that Dictator-turned-President Hugo Banzer and certain Banzer family members ought to go to jail themselves if they want to show they are serious about combatting drugs...

Banzer's top assistant threatened Congressman Evo Morales in response...

Then the Agriculture Minister declared that the well-organized unions of coca growers no longer exist, and that in the eyes of the State, Congressman Morales doesn't exist either...

Narco News provides three recent stories that demonstrate the censorious nature of the war on drugs..


Translated from Los Tiempos
Cochabamba, December 22, 2000

Evo Connects Banzer with Narco-Trafficking and Fortún is Irritated

"Beyond limits" is how Government Minister Guillermo Fortún Suárez described the accusation by Evo Morales Ayma that some family members of Hugo Banzer Suárez should have gone to jail for drug crimes.

"If the government wants to put us in jail for having coca, first Banzer and his family would have to go to prison because in Banzer's hacienda they found cocaine paste and it is known that is cocaine," said Evo Morales, referring to a fact that supposedly occured in the 1970s.

At the same time, he recalled that "the son in law of Hugo Banzer Suárez, Luis Alberto Valle, 'Chito,' was found with cocaine in Montreal, Cananda, something that the entire Bolivian people know." Thus, he asked: "Why don't Banzer and his family go to prison? Then we'll see if they are going to apply the anti-drug law."

"This man has gone too far, to an intolerable position because he has resorted to disobedience of authority," responded the government minister…

According to Fortún, Evo Morales is abusing his congressional immunity, a protection that he should have left a while ago and submitted himself to judicial process for many violations committed in his position as a leader and a Congressman. "This is already too much," reacted the bothered Government Minister.

Translated from La Razón
La Paz, January 5, 2001

Coca Growers Organizations No Longer Exist in Eyes of the Government

"They have no reason to exist because there is no longer any coca in the Chapare Region"

The Agriculture Minister reiterated that the Executive Branch will not sit and negotiate with Evo Morales. The Congressman and coca growers leader called the move discriminatory and warned that a new conflict in the Tropic of Cochabamba could explode.

The unions, the six federations, and the Coca Growers Coordinated Committee of Cochabama no longer exist, says the government. Thus, the future alternative-development projects in the Chapare will be coordinated with the local governments, businesses and non governmental organizations that work in the zone and with the representatives of legal agricultural products to replace coca.

"Why won't you negotiate with the coca growers organizations of the Tropic?" the Minister of Agriculture, Hugo Carvajal was asked. "Because there are no coca growers in Chapare. Simply, they already don't exist. They lost their reason to be. They no longer have legal standing," he responded....

"It would be absurd and contradictory for us to say there is no coca in the Chapare and still recognize the coca growers. What's more, whoever dedicates himself to the production of coca is a delinquent and is breaking the law, and thus should be prosecuted..."

Carvajal said catagorically that the government will not sit at the negotiating table with the Congressman and coca growers leader Evo Morales. "It's not a political position, but a practical one. We can't dialogue with Evo Morales because there already is no coca," said the Agriculture Minister.

The response was instant. Morales, in Cochabamba, said that Carvajal "is in outer space," because there is, in fact, coca in the Cochabamba Tropic...

"Yes, We Have No Coca?"

The Economist Weighs In

From The Economist of London
January 4, 2001

Bolivia's other coca war

Coca has been grown for centuries in the Yungas, which makes a
government eradication plan controversial

EVEN Bolivian officials admit that at least 300 hectares (740 acres)
of coca survive in the Chapare region of Bolivia's tropical
lowlands. Others put the figure higher. Nevertheless, President
Hugo Banzer's government decided to declare victory in its battle
to wipe out the hardy shrub, from which cocaine is derived, in
what was its main growing area in Bolivia. At a ceremony beside a
military base a few days before Christmas, Mr Banzer and Manuel
Rocha, the United States' ambassador, formally ended a campaign
that has seen 40,000 hectares of coca eradicated in the Chapare
since 1998.

That is a rare achievement in the South American drug war. It has
come at a price in the lives of protesters and police, and in coca
farmers' livelihoods: although alternative development projects
have carpeted bits of the Chapare with bananas, pineapples and
the like, they have provided much less employment than coca.
During the ceremony, several hundred protesters scattered piles
of coca leaves over a main road nearby.

Mr Banzer can claim to have more or less fulfilled an election
pledge to end Bolivia's role in the international drug trade. Even so,
at American prodding, he is preparing to fight another, and still
harder, coca battle, in the Yungas, an area of tropical valleys north
of the capital, La Paz. Unlike the Chapare, where large-scale coca
production began in the 1970s to supply the drug trade, the
Yungas has seen the cultivation of the shrub since before the
Spanish conquest.

Bolivia's anti-drug law allows 12,000 hectares of Yungas coca, to
satisfy demand for its traditional uses. These include chewing the
leaves to mitigate the rigours of Bolivia's bleak Altiplano, 4,000
metres (13,100 feet) above sea level, as well as the coca tea
given to tourists on arrival in La Paz.

The government, relying on American satellite-derived data, claims
that coca cultivation in the Yungas exceeds the legal limit by some
2,000-3,000 hectares. Critics dispute this, arguing that the figures
include abandonded terracing. In 1999, a land-use survey carried
out for local municipalities by independent consultants found only
about 9,000 hectares of coca.

Nevertheless, the government plans to start eradicating the
presumed surplus in March, and to finish the job before Mr
Banzer's term ends in July 2002. As in the Chapare, villages that
"voluntarily" agree to stop growing coca will be paid $2,500 per
hectare, as well as being offered help with alternatives, such as

Not enough, say the farmers. In the Chapare, coca was planted on
flat land and could be harvested in its first year. By contrast, in the
steep, high valleys of the Yungas, coca cultivation is a slow and
back-breaking business, involving building and maintaining terraces
and a three-year wait for a first crop, according to Fidel Ticon, a
farmers' leader. "Even if they offered us $10,000 per hectare, it
would not be enough," he argues. Neither is it easy to grow other
crops in the Yungas, where alternative development has already
been tried, unsuccessfully. Between 1984 and 1993, the UN spent
$32.4m there, with nothing now left to show for it.

In what looks like the first step in its Yungas campaign, the
government is squeezing the tightly-regulated legal coca market.
By law, all coca produced in the Yungas must be taken to La Paz,
where it is bought by 700-odd registered retailers.

The government recently slashed the maximum amount the retailers
are allowed to buy, from 500lb (225kg) a month to 300lb. As a
result, the retail price around the country has risen while the price
paid to the producers has fallen, and the accumulated surplus of
unsold leaves on the farms is being snapped up for cocaine
production, according to Dionicio Nuñez, of the Yungas Farmers
Federation. He argues that this is a government ruse to bolster
public support for its coming offensive.

Mr Banzer may be right in saying that some Yungas coca is
supplying the drug trade. But most is not. Many Bolivians came to
accept coca eradication in the Chapare as a necessary attack on
organised crime. It will be much harder to persuade them that the
same applies in the Yungas.

If They Don't Exist, Why Wage a War Against Them?