Newsbrief: Bolivian Government Shifts Away from "Zero Coca" 12/12/03

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Two members of the government of Bolivian President Carlos Mesa signaled this week that his administration would shift the emphasis of its anti-drug policy from forced eradication of "excess" coca to efforts to block the arrival of precursor chemicals into the country and finished cocaine out. The Mesa government is under severe political pressure from coca growers, led by Movement Toward Socialism head Evo Morales, to end its US-backed eradication policies. "Zero coca isn't an objective that will be achieved because taking into account that coca is a legal traditional crop within the country, it is a scheme that cannot be accomplished," said Minister of Agriculture and Peasant Affairs Diego Montenegro.

"What we are talking about now is to achieve a greater intensity in interdiction actions and above all, an energetic position against the chemicals that are used to make the drug," Minister of Government Alfonso Ferrufino added to the Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos. "Our anti-drug plan will do a study of the legal destination of coca, of the final use of the crop, which will give us a policy instrument, because when the number of allowed hectares was defined in Law 1008, they used certain elements to define the allowable quantity, but all of that happened 15 years ago," Ferrufino explained.

That study would include satellite monitoring of the crop, the ministers added. The broader anti-drug strategy would also make "structural adjustments" in existing alternative development programs and attempt to give renewed emphasis to prevention and rehabilitation efforts, they said.

US Ambassador David Greenlee, for his part, told Los Tiempos that there is more illegal coca growing in Bolivia (16,000 hectares) than there is legal (12,000 hectares). The US government would continue to back the Mesa government, Greenlee said, as long as it remained firm in the unalterable struggle against the drug traffic.

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Issue #315, 12/12/03 Editorial: Steve Kubby IS a Refugee | Canada Denies Refugee Status to US Medical Marijuana Exile | Fallout Continues in Goose Creek, South Carolina, High School Drug Raid | DRCNet Interview: Darrell Rogers, Acting Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy | DRCNet Book Review: "A Drug War Carol," by Susan Wells and Scott Bieser (Big Head Press, $5.95) | Newsbrief: Bush Campaign Letter Attacks Drug Reform Funders | Newsbrief: Thai Government to Investigate Itself over Drug War Killings | Newsbrief: Bolivian Government Shifts Away from "Zero Coca" | Newsbrief: New Canadian Prime Minister to Revive Marijuana Decriminalization Bill | Newsbrief: Jamaican Solicitor General Warns Ganja Decrim Could Violate International Treaties, Invite US Retaliation | Newsbrief: Australian Prime Minister Says Injection Room Violates Treaties, UN Says No It Doesn't | Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana Approved by German Court | Newsbrief: West Virginia Supreme Court Grants Private Employers Greater Pre-Employment Drug Test Rights | Newsbrief: NYC Cigarette Tax Hike Leads to Black Market Violence | Newsbrief: Cop Kills Cop in Methamphetamine Raid Gone Awry | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar

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