Bolivia: Success in the struggle against drugs, without the DEA, military bases or US funding

With no foreign military bases, without the DEA and without funding from the United States, Bolivia has achieved greater results in the struggle against drug trafficking.

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At the end of July, Bolivian President Evo Morales congratulated the Special Force for the Fight against Drug Trafficking (FELCN) on their 31st anniversary, affirming that this body guarantees sovereignty in the fight against drugs.  He also underlined that, with no foreign military bases, without the DEA and without funding from the United States, Bolivia has achieved greater results in the struggle against drug trafficking.


The Minister of Finance, Mario Guillén, pointed out that the Bolivian model not only prioritizes the economic aspect, but also the social aspect, since it would be a failure to have economic growth without social development and an autonomous, sovereign model adjusted to the needs of Bolivian reality. The government projected economic growth of 4.7% for this year and underlined the reduction of extractive activities.


In Colombia and Peru, coca producers follow an alternative development path, that involves eradicating coca and offering some project or construction work, “while in Bolivia we have moved from this to integral development that is sustainable for industrialization”, said the Vice-Minister of Coca and Integral Development, Froilán Luna.


The FELCN is a specialized body of the Bolivian Police Force, whose mission is to defend and protect society from the problem of illicit drugs and enforce the normative framework, with social participation, respect for human rights and environmental protection.


From January to date, the Operational Strategic Command (CEO) eradicated 3,763 hectares of illegal coca plantations: 2,664 were eradicated in the tropic of Cochabamba, 833 in the Yungas and in the North of La Paz and 216 in Yapacani, in the department of Santa Cruz; so indicated the Viceminister of Social Defence and Controlled Substances, Felipe Cáceres.


In his opinion, the eradication of this year will stand out in the report of the Coca Crop Monitor of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) and he anticipates that crops will be below 20,000 hectares in the whole country. “There will be no concertation nor negotiation of the law to eradicate illegal cultivation of coca leaves in protected areas and forestry reserves, in these areas it is ‘zero coca’ and we will simply carry out the norm that prohibits coca plantations”, said Cáceres.


The official denounced that people who are not coca producers come into the national parks and reserves to sow the plants, under the pretext that they have no land or source of income. 


1,850 hectares were eliminated by the Joint Task Force –made up of military and police– in the zones of the Chapare, Apolo and the Yungas, 5.5 tonnes of base paste, 2.5 tonnes of cocaine hydrochloride, and 129 tonnes of marihuana were confiscated by the Special Force.


Moreover, 12 cocaine crystallization laboratories; 11 recycling laboratories; and 579 factories of base paste of cocaine, were destroyed. And 1,547 individuals, both foreigners and Bolivians, were detained in the 5,321 operations of drug trafficking prohibition.




(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop) 


- Sullkata M. Quilla is an anthropologist and economist, and an analyst associated with the Latin American Centre of Strategic Analysis (CLAE,
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