(narconews) Contreras: US Opposes Coca Peace Agreement in Bolivia

Submitted by Editor on Wed, 27/10/2004 - 22:36

Dear Colleague,

As if the country of Bolivia and its eight million people have not had enough conflict and blood spilled in recent years caused by the imposition of "zero coca" eradication policies by a foriegn government, U.S. State Department envoy Charles Shapiro has just rubbed poison into the wounds and unilaterally threatened the peace process.

Alberto M. Giordano

October 24, 2004

As we reported to you on October 7th, the Bolivian government and coca growers signed an historic agreement to allow 3,200 hectares (about 8,000 acres) of legal coca cultivation in the Chapare region for traditional use. This agreement held out the hope that, for the first time, the endless trail of assassinations, tortures, human rights violations, and ruination of families' livelihoods that have marked the "war on drugs" in that region could finally come to an end. A peaceful solution was in sight.

But now the U.S. envoy Shapiro - who left his post as Ambassador to Venezuela recently for the new position of special envoy to the Andean region - seeks to end the peace.

Alex Contreras reports from Bolivia:

"'It is very important that Bolivia meet its eradication goals this year,' Charles Shapiro, the U.S. State Department’s Andean envoy, told the press on Thursday. 'The president says that the goal of 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) eradicated will be met. But the new agreement says that (the government) will carry out a study and not eradicate all the coca in the Chapare. This is troubling.'

"Shapiro met with Bolivian President Carlos Mesa and several government ministers on Thursday, to explain to them that the United States opposes the agreement recently signed with Chapare coca growers..."

Read more at:

* * *

So, for all the lipservice about "democracy," Washington once again shows that it does not respect the democratic decisions of other nations, by meddling in sovereign domestic policies in Bolivia and elsewhere.

The tragedy is so unwarranted: all these years of trying to impose "zero coca" on farmers and indigenous in the Andes region has not made a dent in the easy availability of cocaine in the United States. Production ebbs and flows between Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia... When it goes down in one place it rises in another... but how many thousands of human lives and acres of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed in this failed process?

Finally, Bolivia's government took a move toward sanity, and came to agreement with the farmers of the Chapare region (in which, as Contreras reported earlier this month, the coca growers are now partners in regulating their own coca production levels... a much larger victory for those who seek to control and limit coca production than any of the militarized eradication programs of recent years. That step was taken responsibly, democratically, and according to all accepted norms of how free societies negotiate and make decisions that favor the peace.

And now Charles Shapiro comes in making implied threats and trying to order the government of Bolivia to break its own agreements with its own people, even though breaking such agreements will surely lead to greater violence and human suffering.

Today you can also read on Narco News a fresh translation of a detailed and sharp analysis by Professor Jose Mirtenbaum, director of postgraduate studies at the Gabriel Rene Moreno Autonomous University, Santa Cruz, Bolivia (and 2004 Narco News J-School professor) of how U.S.-imposed "free market" economic policies intersect with the drug war, which explains, really, why U.S.-imposed drug policies are so hairbrained in the region and have little to do with fighting drugs.

In nine days U.S. voters will go to the polls. How would the United States citizens and leaders respond if a foreign government came in after that election and told Washington that it had to change the decision democratically made at threat of, say, an oil boycott or violent intervention?

That is exactly the kind of maneuver Charles Shapiro, with orders from Washington, attempted against Bolivian democracy on Thursday.

This kind of outrage, the latest in a long line of examples of how the drug war and democracy are incompatible, must be stopped. Latin America is organizing and growing stronger in standing up to such abuses. Time will tell if and when U.S. citizens can and will do the same.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano
The Narco News Bulletin
new email: narconews@gmail.com

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