Eradication

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Latin America: More Trouble in Peru's Coca Fields

Tensions continue to rise in the coca fields of Peru's Upper Huallaga Valley, with a coca eradication team attacked over the weekend, a strike by growers bubbling up in Huánuco state, more tough talk from President Alan García, and a Wednesday announcement by the Peruvian police that they had found the link between growers and the violent remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla movement.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/coca-for-market.jpg
coca waiting by the side of the road to go to market
The unrest comes just three weeks after a similar strike in Tocache province in San Martín state. That strike was settled by an agreement to halt forced eradication of coca crops, but the García government ended that moratorium last week, with the president himself calling for the "bombing" of coca fields and maceration pits.

Last weekend, as eradication commenced again, a team of almost 200 civilian and police eradicators were ambushed in Yanajanca in the Tocache district, leaving one civilian eradicator dead and five police wounded. While the identity of the attackers remains unknown, police were quick to note that the area where the attack occurred is an area where a Shining Path remnant led by "Comrade Artemio" operates.

On Tuesday, coca farmers in Tingo María and Aucayacu went on strike, as did their comrades in Leoncio Prado province. Few reports were in by mid-week, but farmers had vowed to block highways. Among other things, they are asking for a meeting with a high-level government delegation.

But President García Tuesday dismissed that call. "What delegation of high ranking officials?" he scoffed. "There is nothing to dialogue about because Peru needs to promote responsible agricultural development with alternative crop programs that will help put an end to drug production."

Drug traffickers are behind the strike, García claimed. "It is evident that drug lords are orchestrating the strike. Just as in Colombia where drug lords have purchased the protection of para-military guerrilla groups to protect their illicit operations, they have done same with groups of coca farmers who run around protesting, 'let me grow whatever I feel like growing' and I am here to tell you that is not how it works," the Peruvian leader said.

By Wednesday, Peruvian authorities had switched from traffickers to the Shining Path as the culprits. In a loudly trumpeted (and conveniently timed) bust, Peruvian Police announced they had "finally placed the link" between restive coca farmers and the Shining Path. Police claimed two Shining Path members were arrested in Aucayacu as they awaited a meeting with coca farmer representatives. Police said they found weapons, ammunition, Shining Path propaganda, and detailed plans for blocking roads during protests.

Peru is the world's second largest producer of coca behind Colombia. Some 60,000 peasant families grow about 100 tons of the bushy plant, much more than is bought up by the state coca monopoly as a legitimate crop.

Taliban Taxes Opium To Fund Insurgency

Location: 
Chinar
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
Tampa Tribune (FL)
URL: 
http://www.tbo.com/news/nationworld/MGBC1WT1G0F.html

Cocaine production doubles since Jan. 2006 - Bolivian official

Location: 
Buenos Aires
Argentina
Publication/Source: 
RIA Novosti (Russia)
URL: 
http://en.rian.ru/world/20070405/63136977.html

Analysis: U.S. drug czar in Afghanistan

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
UPI
URL: 
http://www.upi.com/SecurityTerrorism/view.php?StoryID=20070403-011321-7500r

Diverging US, EU drug strategies in Afghanistan

Location: 
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
Spero News (TX)
URL: 
http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=8832

Peru Prez Orders Bombing Drug Labs

Location: 
Lima
Peru
Publication/Source: 
Prensa Latina (Cuba)
URL: 
http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7BA751397D-E40F-4968-A3F5-A21D112E48D1%7D)&language=EN

Opium for the people: Extraordinary move to legalise poppy crops

Location: 
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
The Independent (UK)
URL: 
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article2411398.ece

Afghan drug post created

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Washington Times
URL: 
http://washingtontimes.com/world/20070327-102126-1274r.htm

The Coveted ONDCP Hiking Award

Any police officer who's ever risked life and limb in the line of duty should be enraged. The Drug Czar is giving out awards to officers who hike around California forests pulling up marijuana plants. From The Willits News in Mendocino:
The Mendocino National Forest Law Enforcement team has received a national Director's Award from the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy for its outstanding service to the nation in combating marijuana trafficking on the national forest last year.


"More marijuana was taken by this team than any other group within the Forest Service in 2006," the citation from Director Walters reads. "In honor and appreciation to the individuals whose outstanding accomplishments greatly enhanced the results of the National Marijuana Eradication Initiative your remarkable efforts have helped protect America from crime, drugs and violence," the award continues.

That's simply not true. I don't recall hearing about a marijuana shortage last autumn. There's no evidence that this activity has prevented anyone from using marijuana, just as there's no evidence that stopping people from using marijuana would be beneficial even if it were possible. What we've got here are a bunch of well-meaning, highly-trained public servants whose talents are being wasted on a glorified easter-egg hunt. The only reason we don't send boyscouts to do this is that they can't be trusted.

Now to be fair, the task does involve rappelling from helicopters, which can get a bit dicey. But that's not the danger that tends be emphasized here. More typically, we're told that grow sites are booby-trapped (which is actually to thwart thieves), and that 22-caliber rifles are commonly found (which are to shoot rodents and other pests). In short, the real heroes of the forest are fire-fighters, which we could have more of if we ended drug prohibition.

Still, while I vehemently deny that there's any significant danger associated with marijuana eradication in national forests, I am prepared to acknowledge that there's a certain amount of skill involved in actually locating the plants. I've spent a considerable amount of time hiking myself, and despite my best efforts, I've never discovered a massive secret marijuana garden.

Location: 
United States

Colombia changes tactics in war against drugs, guerrillas

Location: 
Bogota
Colombia
Publication/Source: 
The Telegraph (GA)
URL: 
http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/world/16975013.htm

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