US Demands Bolivian Government Be "Inflexible" in Coca Negotiations 10/13/00

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The people of Bolivia's Chapare region have been waiting anxiously as government and peasant leaders continue a tense standoff. At issue is the cocaleros' demand that each family be allowed to devote a minimum amount of their land to growing coca for legal uses. Coca is the plant from which the drug cocaine is derived, but has licit uses as well, including the popular soft drink Coca-Cola (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/154.html#crisisbolivia and http://www.drcnet.org/wol/154.html#editorial).

According to NarcoNews.com, US Ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha has demanded President Banzer be "inflexible" in demanding complete coca eradication. On Tuesday, October 10th, the government shut down phone service and electricity to the region, including the Radio Sovereignty radio station owned by the coca grower federations, and Banzer has threatened military action to clear the Cochabamba-Santa Cruz highway being blocked by the coca growers.

The cocaleros refuse to back down from their demand of "one cato per family" and have declared the Chapare a "Free Trade Zone for coca" until the government is willing to negotiate. Congressman Evo Morales warned, "The decision by the rank-and-file is to continue the resistance including by offering our lives."

For daily updates, including English-language translations of Bolivian and foreign press coverage of the Bolivia crisis, visit http://www.narconews.com/pressbriefing.html. The Andean Information Network (http://www.scbbs-bo.com/ain/) provides frequent briefings on the situation from in-country observers based in the Chapare.

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Issue #155, 10/13/00 Interview with Governor Gary Johnson | US Demands Bolivian Government Be Inflexible in Coca Negotiations | November Coalition Comes to Washington to Accept Human Rights Award | Follow That Story -- "There Are Other Tulias in Texas" -- WOL Speaks with the Amarillo NAACP | Silence of the Wolves: Drug Policy in the Bush and Gore Campaigns | New Study Shows California Leads Nation in Drug Offender Imprisonment | Department of Transportation Calls for Drug Testing Lab Investigation | Media Scan: Salon.com, PBS Frontline | The Reformer's Calendar
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