Bolivian Soldiers and Police Begin Eradication of Coca Fields
By Dialogo January 17, 2012
On January 15, more than 2,000 Bolivian military and police personnel began work on the eradication of excess coca in several regions of the country, with special emphasis on ecological reserves.
“We’re going to start the work of eradicating excess coca both in the tropical area of Cochabamba (where President Evo Morales got his start as a union leader) and in the Yungas area of La Paz, chiefly prioritizing national parks,” Deputy Minister of Social Defense Felipe Cáceres told reporters.
The announcement follows an incident that took place in the region of La Asunta, in the Yungas area of La Paz, where three unions expelled 20 members of a joint task force during an opposition-led demonstration against the destruction of excess coca fields.
The government invited those unions to a meeting planned for January 16 to reach a consensus on joint actions to fight drug trafficking, which feeds on excess coca crops.
A force of 1,700 military personnel and 400 police officers of various ranks will be deployed to the camps, Cáceres announced, without going into details.
The law regulating coca and controlled substances recognizes areas of coca production for legal uses in the amount of 12,000 hectares, but a recent United Nations report asserted that there are a total of 31,000 hectares of coca fields in Bolivia.
Bolivia is the world’s third-largest producer of coca, the chief raw material for cocaine, behind Peru and Colombia.