Bolivia, Brazil, and United States Begin Coca-Monitoring Program
By Dialogo April 03, 2012
On April 1, in the Bolivian region of Chapare, the Governments of Bolivia, Brazil, and the United States began to use a satellite system to monitor a reduction in areas planted with coca, AFP confirmed.
“Drug trafficking has to be defeated jointly, sharing efforts among states. This is the great contribution of this system, this trilateral plan involving Bolivia, the United States, and Brazil,” Interior Minister Carlos Romero affirmed here.
In the town of Chimoré, in Chapare, Brazil’s ambassador in La Paz, Marcel Biato, and the U.S. chargé d’affaires, John Creamer, delivered GPS (Global Positioning System) equipment as part of an anti-drug agreement signed in January.
The trinational agreement, which will last a year, aims to promote technical and scientific coordination among the signatory countries, in order to achieve improved monitoring of and greater precision about the areas where excess coca is grown, for the purpose of its eradication, with a budget of 350,000 dollars.
The GPS equipment makes it possible to verify the amount of coca eradicated on site and then do follow-up to come back to check whether rural workers have replanted coca, an unsolved problem in Bolivia.
Bolivia has 31,000 hectares of coca, according to United Nations data, of which only 12,000 are legal for traditional uses, such as chewing, infusion, and in Andean religious rituals.
Since the late 1980s, the country has eradicated between 5,000 and 10,000 hectares a year, manually and with the participation of police and Military personnel, but at the same time that the Government destroys crops, rural workers replant more coca.
The ancient plant is also the raw material for manufacturing cocaine, an activity in which Bolivia is ranked third in the world, behind Peru and Colombia, according to the UN.