Bolivia Promises Net Eradication of Excess Coca in 2012

By Dialogo
January 18, 2012

Bolivian Deputy Social Defense Minister Felipe Cáceres announced on January 16 that the country will seal a trilateral agreement with the United States and Brazil to carry out a pilot project to control excess coca crops.

The Bolivian government hopes to achieve the net eradication of excess coca plantings in 2012, for which it needs to destroy more than 10,000 hectares during the current term, Cáceres stated. “Our challenge for this term is to reach net eradication in upcoming months, with the assistance of our Armed Forces” in support of the police, he said.

The deputy minister’s statements coincided with the initial attempts to extirpate illegal coca fields in the town of Chimoré, in the center of the country and an area that produces the plant, the raw material for the manufacture of cocaine.

In order to achieve that objective, Bolivia “will need to surpass last year’s record level, which was 10,509 hectares eradicated,” Cáceres said.

According to the United Nations, Bolivia is the world’s third-largest producer of coca, behind Peru and Colombia, with 31,000 hectares.

Starting January 16, “18 camps of a Joint Task Force (JTF), made up of military and police personnel, are being set up in the tropical area of Cochabamba and simultaneously in the Yungas area of La Paz,” he affirmed.

In this year’s campaign, “we will not allow coca fields in our parks or forest reserves, because they’re protected by law; they’re locations banned from planting coca, illegal settlements, and other illicit activities, such as drug trafficking,” he warned.

The announcement comes following an incident that took place on January 15 in the region of La Asunta, in the Yungas area of La Paz, where three unions expelled 20 members of a JTF in rejection of the destruction of excess coca fields.