Bolivia Falls Behind on 2012 Coca Eradication Target

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Bolivia’s government announced that it eradicated just 144 hectares of coca in January, leaving it far off-target on its aim to remove all 10,000 hectares of illicit coca crops in 2012.

The statistics, released by the vice minister of social defense, showed that the majority of coca eradication occurred in the department of Cochabamba, where 119.9 hectares were removed.

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The news that only 144 hectares of coca were eliminated could be an embarrassment for Evo Morales’ administration, given its statement last month that it plans to remove 10,000 hectares of illicit coca crops in 2012. If successful, this would bring the total crop in the country down to around the legal level of 20,000 hectares.

One of the reasons behind the low eradication rate, according to La Razon, could be resistance encountered by Bolivia’s Joint Task Force (FTC), which was ejected from a coca growing area by 400 farmers on January 9.

However, another possible cause of January’s low eradication figures is that this month is the height of Bolivia’s rainy season, making eradication efforts more complicated.

The US Anti-Narcotics Office in Bolivia has reduced the funds it provides to the government down to $10 million this year, down from the $15 million provided in 2011, potentially hindering eradication work. Morales has promised his armed forces that the government will cover this loss, ensuring that their anti-drug efforts will not be underfunded.

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