Coca

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Latin America: Colombian Peasants Battle Police Over Coca Crops

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's plan to manually eradicate 250,000 acres of coca plants this year ran into violent opposition last week as some 2,000 peasants blocked a highway outside Medellin, smashed a toll booth, and fought with police in protest of Uribe's campaign. The peasant farmers are demanding two years to shift to legal crops.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/coca-seedlings.jpg
coca seedlings
A few days later, the violence over coca cultivation spread to the Venezuelan border, where two soldiers and three leftist rebels were killed in clashes over coca fields. The soldiers and rebels died in a Monday clash in Santander province.

The US and Colombian governments have spent billions of dollars in recent years in efforts to eradicate coca crops there, but the country remains the world's leading coca and cocaine producer. The protests by peasants and shoot-outs between soldiers and rebels illustrate the obstacles faced by Uribe and his allies in Washington.

For the peasant farmers outside Medellin, protecting their coca crops is a matter of survival, said local officials. "They are asking for solutions to their food security and sustenance," the mayor of the town of Tarazá, Miguel Ángel Gómez, told Reuters.

"We're protesting because if they finish off the illegal crops, which we all know are illegal and damaging, then they finish off our way of sustaining our families," one farmer told local television.

The Colombian government has blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest guerrilla group, with fomenting the protests. Like many other actors in the Colombian conflict, the FARC profits from the coca and cocaine trade.

WOLA & IPS Brown Bag Discussion: Conceptions of Coca

Please join us for this important discussion! For Bolivia’s indigenous majority, the coca leaf has deep historical, religious and cultural value. Coca leaves are chewed or consumed as a tea – mate de coca – served widely throughout Bolivia and Peru. The Coca-Cola Company purchases Peruvian coca leaves, which are used as a flavoring agent in the world’s most popular soft drink. More recently developed coca-based products include baking flour, toothpaste, shampoo, wine and various medicinal products. Yet the coca leaf has often been vilified in international debates and treaties. Presently, there is an international campaign to remove the coca leaf from Schedule 1 of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where coca is listed as a dangerous drug along with cocaine and heroin. Bolivia and Peru have long protested the lack of differentiation between the coca leaf and cocaine in the 1961 Convention and Bolivia’s election of President Evo Morales has given new impetus to efforts to change the convention. An internationally known activist and academic, Silvia Rivera is one of Bolivia’s most effective advocates for promoting the coca leaf and its importance to indigenous cultures in the Andes. A sociologist by training, Ms. Rivera graduated from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz, Bolivia, and is the author of many books, including Las Fronteras de la Coca. Presently, she is serving as an advisor to the Bolivian Government on coca and coca-related issues. Ms. Rivera will make her remarks in English. Please RSVP to Rachel Robb at rrobb@wola.org or call (202) 797-2171. For additional information, contact Ms. Robb at WOLA or Sanho Tree at IPS at stree@igc.org or (202) 787-5266.
Date: 
Fri, 02/15/2008 - 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Location: 
1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Latin America: Chávez Endorses Coca -- Again

For the second time in as many weeks, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has used a public forum to come out as a regular coca chewer. Last week, we reported on Chávez' declaration during a recent televised speech that he chewed coca. He was at it again last Saturday.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/leaves-drying-in-warehouse.jpg
Coca leaves drying in warehouse outside Shinahota, Bolivia. The sign reads ''Coca Power and Territory, Dignity and Sovereignty, Regional Congress 2006-08'' (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith, 2007)
During another televised speech, this time at a summit of Latin American leftist leaders in Caracas, Chávez popped a coca leaf into his mouth and chewed it while defending the plant. According to a Reuters account, Chávez thanked Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca grower union leader and defender of the plant, for bringing him more.

"I knew you wouldn't let me down, my friend, I was running out," Chávez said as he received the leaves from Morales during the televised summit. Chávez then broke one leaf in half and chewed it to the applause of attendees. "Capitalism and international mafias have converted it into cocaine, but coca is not cocaine," he said.

John Walters, the US drug czar, last week accused the Chávez government of "colluding" in the cocaine traffic from neighboring Colombia. Venezuela denied that charge, accusing the US of a smear campaign and unwarranted interference in Venezuela's internal affairs.

Opposition politicians in Venezuela this week said Chávez should take a drug test. But given that Chávez has openly admitted -- twice--that he is a regular coca leaf chewer, one has to ask what the point would be. And once again, Washington's bête noire in Latin America pokes Washington -- and the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs -- in the eye.

Chavez subsidizes Bolivian coca production, will buy all legal coca products

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
VHeadline.com (IL)
URL: 
http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=74350

IPS's Drug Policy Video and Speaker Series -- Assessing Drug Control Policies in Bolivia

The Washington Office on Latin America and the Institute for Policy Studies are pleased to invite you to a brown bag discussion: Assessing Drug Control Policies in Bolivia with Kathryn Ledebur, Director, Andean Information Network, Cochabamba, Bolivia Statistics recently released by the U.S. government and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) present a confusing picture: the U.S. reported that coca production remained statistically unchanged in 2006, while the United Nations reported an 8 percent increase. Kathryn Ledebur, Executive Director of the Andean Information Network (AIN), will analyze this data and the impact of the Morales Administration’s drug control policies to date. She will also assess the overall political and economic situation -- with special attention to the progress of the Constituent Assembly -- and U.S. policy toward Bolivia. Director of AIN since 1999, Ms. Ledebur studied at FLACSO in Quito, Ecuador and has lived in Bolivia for more than a decade. Her work takes her regularly to the Chapare coca growing region. Ms. Ledebur is the author of “Bolivia: Clear Consequences,” in Coletta A. Youngers and Eileen Rosin, eds., Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2005). AIN is dedicated to investigation, analysis, education and dialogue on the impact of U.S.-funded counterdrug efforts in Bolivia. Please RSVP to Jessica Eby jeby@wola.org or call (202) 797-2171. For additional information, contact Ms. Eby or Sanho Tree at stree@igc.org or (202) 787-5266.
Date: 
Wed, 06/27/2007 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Location: 
1112 16th Street, Suite 600
Washington, DC
United States

Reality Check: Report on the latest U.S. coca cultivation estimates

[Courtesy of Jessica Eby, Program Assistant for the Andes Region and Drug Policy, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)] Below please find a link to the new report "Reality Check: The latest U.S. coca cultivation estimates make one thing clear: there is plenty of coca," by John Walsh, Senior Associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Key points include: - The coca cultivation estimates are far from an exact science, but the latest figures leave no doubt that there is plenty of coca being grown, and plenty of cocaine being produced. - Overall Andean coca cultivation in 2006 may have reached its highest level in 20 years. - As was the case for 2005, ONDCP reported increased coca in Colombia for 2006, despite record-setting fumigation and manual eradication operations. Fumigation is clearly not deterring coca growing. - By presenting the coca estimates for 2006 as ranges – rather than only as single figures that mask the considerable measurement uncertainties – ONDCP has opened the door to more realistic consideration of the coca growing and cocaine production estimates. - Now Congress should insist that all past-year and all future coca cultivation estimates be presented as ranges, not just as single figures. - The high coca cultivation levels, especially in Colombia, indicate continued robust cocaine supplies and provide no reason to expect imminent reductions in U.S. cocaine availability. As always, we welcome your feedback regarding this report and encourage you to contact us with your questions and comments. http://www.wola.org/media/Reality%20Check%20June%202007.pdf
Location: 
Colombia

Colombian coca production up for 3rd straight year

Location: 
Bogota
Colombia
Publication/Source: 
Houston Chronicle
URL: 
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4857918.html

Peru's anti-drug efforts lacking bite

Location: 
Lima
Peru
Publication/Source: 
Miami Herald
URL: 
http://www.miamiherald.com/579/story/126423.html

The Colombia experiment

Location: 
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/business/story.html?id=e0509bad-a8e3-402d-b9df-5622ad9f61ca

Gaia-Murdering Psychopath

Peter Guither of Drug WarRant explains to drug czar John Walters why it is his prohibitionist policies that bear the root blame for endangering a rare hummingbird species in the Andes, not the coca growers as Walters' agency claims on their own blog.
Location: 
United States

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