Bolivia, Brazil, and the US Sign Agreement to Monitor Coca Fields

By Dialogo
January 24, 2012

On January 20, Bolivia and the United States signed their first anti-drug cooperation agreement after more than three years of diplomatic distancing that brought bilateral relations to their lowest level ever.

The agreement, which aims at establishing a new mechanism for monitoring illegal crops of coca, the raw material for cocaine, is complemented by another agreement signed at the same time between La Paz and Brasilia, slightly more than two months after Bolivia and the United States agreed to normalize relations.

The United States will provide equipment and training for the analysis of images and other data that will be obtained by Brazil, while Bolivia will contribute the field component.

“This trilateral project has the priority of strengthening international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking under the principle of shared responsibility,” according to a joint statement published after the signing ceremony at the Bolivian foreign ministry.

The document did not give details about the duration or cost of the project, in which the United Nations will also participate. It also did not mention the possible use of unmanned aircraft in monitoring drug trafficking, something that had been repeatedly mentioned since the agreements were announced, about six months ago.

Cooperation between Bolivia and the United States against drug trafficking has been reduced to a minimum since President Evo Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the second half of 2008, accusing them of political interference. Washington, D.C. responded by expelling the Bolivian ambassador.