Newsbrief: Peru Backs Off on Coca Eradication, Again 8/9/02

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It's tough times for the Empire in South America these days. Argentina and Uruguay are in economic crisis, with Brazil teetering on the brink and threatening to elect a leftist president. Hundreds of thousands of Bolivians just voted for a radical coca farmer for president there, and while Evo Morales failed to attain the presidency, he and his supporters now form one of the strongest political blocs in the country. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, long an irritant to Washington, retains power despite a US-encouraged coup attempt. In Colombia, the US is knee-deep in a brutal civil war and getting in deeper by the day. And now, for the second time since June, our Peruvian drug war allies have put the kibosh on a coca eradication program.

Peruvian authorities announced Tuesday that they would "ease up" on ongoing eradication efforts in the Ene-Apurimac Valley, one of the country's major coca producing regions. The announcement came after a three-day sit-in by more than 7,000 coca farmers in the provincial city of Ayacucho, the Associated Press reported. The farmers had marched more than 90 miles from their farms to protest eradiation efforts and had threatened to march on to Lima, some 200 miles to the northwest.

While precisely what Peruvian officials intend to do to "ease up" remains unclear, what is clear is that coca production in Peru is on the rise again. Under now-fugitive former President Alberto Fujimori, Peru undertook a ruthless eradication campaign that succeeded in driving production down from 285,000 acres in 1995 to 84,000 in 2000, but that figure has climbed rapidly in the last two years according to Peruvian researchers. The Huallaga River Valley, where eradication was halted in June, and the Ene-Apurimac region constitute about two-thirds of all Peruvian production, according to the United Nations.

US drug czar John Walters, who just happened to be in the region trying to put out fires next door in Bolivia, told the Associated Press that halting the eradication programs was a "serious concern" to the US and threatened Peru with the eventual loss of its trade preferences with the US if the halt continued. But Walters might want to talk to US Ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha about making heavy-handed threats. After Rocha warned Bolivians they could lose aid if they voted for Morales, Morales' popularity skyrocketed. Now, US-supported eradication programs in Bolivia may be history.

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Issue #249, 8/9/02 Nevada Marijuana Initiative Endorsed by State's Largest Police Group | DC Board of Elections Rejects Medical Marijuana Petitions -- Admits One of Seven Valid Signatures Ignored but Refuses to Correct Error | Democratic Governor Candidate Calls for Repeal of NY Rockefeller Laws | Switzerland Defends Cannabis Decrim, Tells UN Narcocrats to Buzz Off | Which War Am I In? DEA Meth Offensive Continues as US Pilots in Afghanistan Gobble Speed | Libertarian Party Launches TV Ad Campaign Targeting Rep. Bob Barr on Medical Marijuana | Drug Czar Picks Beer-Promoting NASCAR Hot Rodder to Carry Anti-Drug Message | School Anti-Drug Programs Get Failing Grade, Study Says | Drug Dog Terrorizes Native American Kindergartners in South Dakota, Lawsuit Filed | Newsbrief: South Dakota Lakota Successfully Harvest Hemp Crop | Newsbrief: Peru Backs Off on Coca Eradication, Again | Newsbrief: Radical Party Moscow Activists Go to Trial for Marijuana Legalization Rally -- Free Speech at Heart of Case | Newsbrief: Federal Judge Deems Utah Asset Forfeiture Initiative Constitutional | Newsbrief: Canadian NAFTA Suit Over Hemp Restrictions Enters Arbitration | Newsbrief: More than One Million in Drug Treatment in US, SAMHSA Says | Newsbrief: Budget Woes Close Detox, Treatment Facilities in NC, Iowa | Newsbrief: Stiffer Ecstasy Penalties Would Hit Penn State University | Newsbrief: Study Finds THC-like Chemicals Useful for Certain Disorders | Newsbrief: Archeological Evidence of Bronze Age Drug Trade | Web Scan: Narco News, Nature, Cato | Legislative Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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