Latin America: As Venezuela and Bolivia Draw Nearer, Chavez Ponies Up $1 Million for Coca Factories, Research 6/2/06

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It's a trio that gives the Bush administration nightmares, and they were all together in Bolivia last weekend. Bolivian President Evo Morales hosted Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in what he called an "axis of good" during a visit to Bolivia's coca-growing Chapare region, and Chavez announced he would support Morales' call to legalize and industrialize the coca leaf by providing $1 million in funding for research into coca's uses and factories to turn it into coca flour or tea.

The weekend meeting came as tensions are increasing between Washington and Bolivia and Venezuela. Among the Morales policies the administration clearly doesn't like is his determination to expand his country's coca industry and win legal status for the plant long sacred in the Andes. While Morales has vowed to fight cocaine trafficking, he is also seeking voluntary -- not forced -- limits on coca production, a move that makes the US uneasy as Bolivian coca production continues to rise.

Ironically, Morales and his guests flew into the region at the US-built Chimore air base, once a hangout of US DEA agents attempting to enforce the "zero coca" policies their government imposed on Bolivia. Upon his arrival, Morales gave thanks "to the government of the United States for building that airport," although he added that the effort had led to conflict and loss of life. "From those days of sadness, we come to a day of celebration," Morales said. "Before the governments made us weep with their repression and now we weep with joy."

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Issue #438 -- 6/2/06

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Editorial: We Should Have Such Problems | Book Offer: Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went up in Smoke | Feature: Salvia Under Siege -- Movement to Ban Herbal Hallucinogen Gains Momentum in Statehouses | Feature: SSDP, ACLU Seek Permanent Injunction in HEA Lawsuit, Education Department Moves to Dismiss | Feature: Drug Reformers Take the Third Party Path in Bids for Statewide Office | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Law Enforcement: Federal Drug Prosecutions Declined for Past Five Years | Medical Marijuana: South Dakota Initiative Makes the November Ballot | Harm Reduction: ACLU Wins Victory in Connecticut Needle Exchange Case | Latin America: Mexican Leftist Candidate Calls for More Army in Drug War | Latin America: US Drug War Ally Reelected in Colombia, But Leftist Legalization Advocate Places Second | Latin America: As Venezuela and Bolivia Draw Nearer, Chavez Ponies Up $1 Million for Coca Factories, Research | Europe: Dutch Mayor to Move Coffee Shops to Belgian Border | Web Scan: New Change the Climate Online TV Ad, Journey for Justice Daily Journal, Psychedelics and Medicine, Convict Nation | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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