2012-07-05

Bolivia Eradicates 5,000 Hectares of Illegal Coca in First Half of Year

Bolivia expects to eradicate more than 10,000 hectares of illegal coca by the end of 2012, with the support of the army and the police. (Photo: AFP/Aizar Raldes)

Bolivia expects to eradicate more than 10,000 hectares of illegal coca by the end of 2012, with the support of the army and the police. (Photo: AFP/Aizar Raldes)

AFP

Bolivia eradicated 5,000 hectares of illegal and excess coca in the first half of the year, equal to the amount set by the country’s anti-drug law as a mandatory annual goal, announced on July 2 the Joint Task Force (FTC), made up of the army and the police.

“As of 1st of July, we’ve eradicated 5,098 hectares of illegal coca. We’ve exceeded what was done under the previous administration,” said Colonel Williams Kaliman, the commander of the FTC, at a public event attended by President Evo Morales in the coca-growing locality of Chimoré, 550 km southeast of La Paz.

“We hope to reach the goal of more than 10,000 hectares by the end of the year,” the Bolivian president noted. In 2011, a record 10,509 hectares were eradicated.

Morales emphasized that prior to his administration, “zero-coca policies led to a great deal of confrontation, because they were imposed from above and from outside, (but) now we’ve changed; it’s been possible to reduce the numbers without injuries and deaths.”

The highest percentage reduction was recorded in the Trópico region of Cochabamba with 3,835 hectares, while in the Yungas region of La Paz (a traditional growing area), 1,000 hectares were eradicated.

Official figures also indicate that 23 tons of cocaine, the majority coming from Peru, were seized in 7,000 operations.

United Nations reports specify that there are 31,000 hectares planted with coca in Bolivia, despite the fact that the law only authorizes 12,000 hectares for traditional uses, such as chewing, medicine, and Andean religious rituals.

Bolivia is the world’s third largest cocaine producer, after Peru and Colombia, according to the same organization’s data.

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