Bolivia Defends Coca Law, Takes Swipe at Neighbor Colombia for US Funding

March 21, 2017

March,  15 2017 (Panampost)

The Bolivian government has made a public point of announcing that it does not depend on either Europe or the United States to finance its fight against drug trafficking.

Bolivian Vice President Álvaro García Linera said Bolivia did not beg for economic support and asked Europe and the United States to work to reduce the demand for cocaine.

“We fight against drug trafficking with Bolivian money, we do not depend on the European Union (EU) to fight against drug trafficking. Before when we depended on the United States, Bolivia received about USD $100 million. We have set aside that aid,” he said.

García Linera reacted after the EU’s comments on the Bolivian decision to raise the legal limit on coca leaf crops from 12,000 to 22,000 hectares.

The EU expressed concern about the rules and suggested that its aid to Bolivia should be “refocused.”

Garcia Linera emphasized that before the world Bolivia has “moral authority” because it produces less coca than Peru and Colombia and is not “begging money for the fight against drug trafficking.”

“In Colombia they grow 90,000 hectares, receive a Nobel Prize and the United States gives them USD $300 million to fight against drug trafficking,” he said.

Garcia Linera referred to the fact that the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.

Internally, the controversy over the new coca law has also grown because the opposition believes that more coca cultivation in Bolivia can only mean increased drug trafficking.

It is noteworthy that on March 2, a US report on drug trafficking revealed that the regimes of Evo Morales and Nicolás Maduro have failed in that respect.

The report, drawn from 2016 figures, is based on recommendations issued by former US President Barack Obama last September when he designated Bolivia, Venezuela and Burma as responsible for a failed policy in the fight against drugs in the previous 12 months.

According to the Obama administration, neither Venezuela nor Bolivia met their commitments against trafficking and drug production in the last year. Venezuela was first included in that list in 2007, and Bolivia in 2008.