The Bolivian government expressed an interest in exchanging intelligence with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the agency that President Evo Morales famously expelled from the country in 2008.
“We will work on cooperation mechanisms, knowing that we are different, but that we can also have common interests,” Interior Minister Hugo Moldiz said at a press conference.
Still, Moldiz cautioned against optimism, and said the United States won’t stop trying to undermine “progressive and revolutionary processes” in Latin America. He also said that the DEA would not be allowed to re-establish an office in Bolivia.
Bolivia produced around 22,000 hectares of coca in 2014, the crop used to create cocaine, 19,000 hectares of which was produced legally, according to Moldiz.
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The announcement comes after several years of strained relations between the two countries. Bolivia expelled the DEA and the US ambassador in 2008, purportedly for “espionage” and “conspiracy,” although other reports say that Morales believed the DEA was following him when he visited his girlfriends.
Relations thawed in 2011, when both countries signed a framework for mutual cooperation, which included drug trafficking and production as a common area of interest. One program combined US training with Brazilian satellites to monitor coca production.
In the wake of the DEA’s absence, Europe has pledged varying amounts of money to anti-drug efforts in Bolivia. In 2013, the EU pledged $33.4 million in anti-drug aid, compared to $6 million from the United States.
Total acreage of coca went down 26 percent in the three-year period between 2010 and 2013, and if Moldiz’s statements are true, this is the smallest coca yield the country has seen since 2002.