Bolivian security forces tasked with eradicating illicit coca crops have surpassed the 2021 goal of 9,000 hectares. Bolivian Minister of Government Eduardo del Castillo made the announcement during the presentation of a report on coca crop rationalization and eradication on December 16, 2021, in La Paz.
“As of December 14 , the total number of coca leaf eradicated has reached 9,457 hectares,” del Castillo said, who added that the government of Luis Arce reinstated a Bolivian model “based on respect with social control by the coca growers themselves,” which has brought successful results in the eradication of surplus coca leaf.
Vice Minister of Social Defense and Controlled Substances Jaime Mamani said that the results were positive because they were based on “social control and respect for Mother Earth.”
“With this model, we have surpassed our goal under the General Coca Law, under the principle of shared responsibility and in compliance with international agreements,” Mamani said, according to Agencia Boliviana de Información.
Authorized and unauthorized areas
The 2017 General Coca Law increased from 12,000 to 22,000 hectares the areas where coca can be legally produced in Bolivia. The previous law, passed in 1988, classified production zones into three categories: traditional production zones (including historical and agroecological crops), surplus production zones in transition (subject to annual reduction, replacement, and development plans), and illicit production zones (with prohibited crops).
The new law of 2017 classified coca production into authorized and unauthorized zones. Authorized zones, the Bolivian Vice Ministry of Communications indicated in a statement, include original and ancestral production, “where the leaf is produced to satisfy consumption, research, and industrialization needs.” Unauthorized zones are subject to eradication, for being out of the designated authorized areas.
In addition to eradicating coca crops, Bolivian security forces have focused on countering narcotrafficking. On December 28, 2021, for example, the Special Force to Fight Drug Trafficking (FELCN, in Spanish) destroyed five clandestine airstrips in Abel Iturralde province, La Paz department.
“These airstrips were used for aircraft coming from Peru to refuel and continue their journey to Brazil or another country in the region,” said the FELCN in a statement. In its 2021 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the U.S. Department of State indicated that Bolivia is the third largest source country of cocaine and a major transit zone for Peruvian cocaine.