Bolivia Drug War Stronger Without US: Morales

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Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said his country is better off now that it is free from US interference in counternarcotics, just days after a top level US official said the United States was cutting all counternarcotics ties.

Weeks after expelling the US Agency for International Development and days after the United States announced it would shut down its Bolivian anti-drugs office, President Morales said he was “proud” Bolivia would be entirely free from US counternarcotics officials.

“The US war on drugs is a failure…In contrast we have demonstrated that we are better in this fight without the help of the US,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

To prove his point, Morales and his Minister of Government Carlos Romero cited figures showing cocaine seizures up 276 percent since Morales came to power in 2006, and police anti-drug operations up 184 percent; 3,654 hectares of coca were eradicated so far this year compared to 3,296 hectares in the same period last year, the officials said.

Morales gets alternative assistance from partners such as Brazil and Venezuela.

InSight Crime Analysis

The closure of the US anti-drugs office in Bolivia is the final nail in the coffin of a relationship that has been dying for years. Since Morales threw out the US Drug Enforcement Administration from Bolivia in 2008, anti-drugs cooperation between the two countries has been dwindling, with harsh criticisms issued on both sides. To cite just one example from the Bolivian side, Morales said last year the US had no “morality, authority or ethics” in its counter-drug efforts. This came after the US said for the fourth consecutive year Bolivia was “failing demonstrably” in its counternarcotics efforts.

Both sides will cite figures to bolster its point. Neither is very convincing. The Bolivia government figures indeed sound very positive, though have not been independently verified. The US coca production figures are regularly questioned throughout the Andean region.

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