Bolivia to Create Green Army to Control Coca Plantations

By Dialogo
August 08, 2012

Bolivian president Evo Morales announced on Aug. 6, the upcoming creation of a “Green Regiment” with the objective of preventing the current expansion of illegal coca crops into the natural parks.

“Soon we will create the first Green Regiment, which will be responsible for guarding the national parks in accordance to [the standards of] social movements,” announced Morales during the Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 6. Prior to being elected president, Morales served as director of the National Association of Coca Growers.

“We have debated this subject enough with (…) all the Armed Forces,” Morales pointed out in a television broadcast speech in which he reminded his audience that the country’s anti-narcotic laws expressly prohibit the cultivation of coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine, inside ecological reserves.

“I want to warn anyone in the national parks” about coca plantations, said Morales, who pointed out that Carrasco and Isiboro national parks respect the limits of expansion of the crops, unlike Madivi national park.

The Bolivian president also talked about data from Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for the White House, who in the latter part of July stated that for the first time in 17 years Colombia’s production capacity is lower than Peru’s (325 metric tons in 2010) and Bolivia’s (265 metric tons in 2011).

“We don’t want to do comparative charts as to how much Colombia and Bolivia each receive, and what the results are in Colombia and in Bolivia,” he said.

According to data from the United Nations, Bolivia has 31,000 hectares of coca crops, the majority of which is destined to drug trafficking, out of the 12,000 allowed by law.

In 2011, Bolivia eradicated about 11,000 hectares of excess coca and as of July 22nd had successfully destroyed 5,857 hectares, according to data from the Vice Minister of Social Defense.