Bolivia Asks EU, UN for Anti-drug Helicopters, Radar

By Dialogo
December 15, 2011

Bolivia, the world’s third largest cocaine producer, will ask the European Union and United Nations to provide helicopters and radars to fight drug trafficking, President Evo Morales said on December 13.

“We are going to make this request official soon,” he said. “I would see that not as cooperation, but as an obligation, to more effectively fight drug trafficking in Bolivia.”

The Andean country, one of the poorest in South America, has an ageing fleet of 10 UH-1H Huey helicopters that it obtained from the United States in the 1980s and early 90s.

“The drug traffickers, especially the international ones, are equipped with technology that is superior to what the government has,” Morales said.

Bolivia has been eagerly seeking ways to boost and diversify foreign aid for its drug trafficking programs since expelling the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008.

Even so, Washington, D.C. still provided about $15 million to Bolivian anti-drug programs in 2011.

The E.U. has allocated $53 million (40 million euros) in aid to Bolivia for 2012, mostly for social programs or to subsidize cultivation of alternative crops to cocaine.

Brazil, the region’s heavyweight, signed a bilateral agreement with Bolivia this year that would make drones and helicopters available to the Andean country, the source of 80 to 90 percent of the cocaine circulating in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.