Newsbrief: Bolivia's Chapare Cocaleros Sign Historic Agreement with Government 10/8/04

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At a Sunday meeting, representatives of the Bolivian government and coca growers (cocaleros) in the Chapare region signed an agreement permitting approximately 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) of coca to be grown in the region this year. According to a report from the Andean Information Network (http://www.ain.org.bo), cocaleros in exchange agreed to voluntarily eradicate another 7,500 acres by the end of the year. Cocaleros also accepted coca eradication in two national parks in the area.

The accord comes after weeks of rising tensions in the zone that have left at least one cocalero dead and 30 wounded, along with at least seven wounded among Bolivian security forces, AIN reported. After nearly a year of quiet in the Chapare, conflict arose anew when cocaleros clashed with the Joint Task Force, the Bolivian government's combined police-military eradication unit. At a September 12 meeting, cocaleros voted to renew vigils around eradication camps and coca fields slated for eradication in an effort to block further destruction of their crops.

The Sunday accord should at least temporarily put a damper on further conflict in the Chapare. In the agreement, cocaleros agreed to end their vigils and work with the Joint Task Force to eliminate crops whose eradication has been agreed upon. In return, in addition to being allowed to grow coca this year, cocaleros won concessions from the government to improve alternative development programs and an agreement that a study of legal coca markets will be carried out within a year and will be used to determine future coca policy.

According to AIN, the agreement represents a "dramatic departure" from the "zero coca" option of totally suppressing production in the Chapare. AIN credits not only cocaleros and the Bolivian government, but also the US government, which has historically placed coca eradication at the crown of its Bolivia policy. The US Embassy did not reject the accord outright, instead emphasizing its eradication component, AIN noted approvingly: "This more strategic stance is in stark contrast to past blanket opposition to permitted coca production in the Chapare region, which had generated escalating levels of recurring conflict."

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Issue #357, 10/8/04 Editorial: A Tragedy in the Capital | Medical Marijuana Activists Besiege HHS, Demand Rescheduling | Drug Policy and the Presidential Election -- Introduction | The Election I: Bush and Kerry on Drugs: Past Records and Platform Planks | The Election II: Drug Reformers on Kerry and Bush, Nader and Badnarik | The Election III: DRCNet Interview: Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader | The Election IV: DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate (repeat) | Newsbrief: Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Critical Federal Sentencing Cases | Newsbrief: Needle Exchange Bill Passes New Jersey Assembly | Newsbrief: Protests Rise over Award as Thai Prime Minister Prepares for New Round of Drug War | Newsbrief: Bolivia's Chapare Cocaleros Sign Historic Agreement with Government | Newsbrief: DEA Pulls Prescription Pain Medicine FAQs Without Explanation | Newsbrief: Hemp Crops in Western Australia Stymied By Licensing Requirements | Newsbrief: Atlanta Cops Use Forfeited Funds to Buy Bigger Guns | Newsbrief: No Asset Forfeiture for Misdemeanor Drug Charges, Tennessee Says | Newsbrief: Texas DA Says Doctors Must Turn In Drug-Using Pregnant Women | Newsbrief: Another Killer Cop Walks Free | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | This Week in History | Administrative Assistant: Part-Time Job Opportunity at DRCNet | The Reformer's Calendar
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