Bolivia has announced plans to eradicate all coca that is illicitly grown in the country, leaving only 20,000 that can legally be cultivated for traditional uses.
Deputy Minister for Social Defense Felipe Caceres declared that the Bolivian government aims to carry out a “net eradication” of illicit coca in 2012.
He said the government would eradicate 10,000 hectares, following on from the 10,509 eradicated in 2011.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has expanded the legal limit from 12,000 to 20,000 ha, and made efforts to buy up the excess coca crop for traditional and industrial use. However, Bolivia is estimated to have at least 30,000 ha under cultivation. The government destroyed 10,500 in 2010.
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As mentioned above, the government has controversially raised the cap on legal coca in Bolivia to 20,000 hectares. However, this latest eradication pledge suggests that the government is shifting towards bringing the amout of coca production in the country to the 12,000 hectare limit mandated by law.
This week the Bolivian government announced that it would finally sign a long-awaited trilateral agreement with Brazil and the United States which will increase technical cooperation amongst counternarcotics forces in the three countries. As InSight Crime has reported, the future of the agreement has been in doubt for some time, as both US and Bolivian officials had reservations about its contents.
What’s more, the Morales administration’s close ties to coca unions can occasionally prove be a boon to its counternarcotics efforts. On January 18 the La Paz Association of Coca Producers (ADEPCOCA) offered to reduce the amount of coca grown by its members by 6,000 hectares, by raising restrictions on the amount of land allowed per family. The offer comes just days after a confrontation between coca growers and security forces north of the capital.