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Bilateral and Legislative Antinarcotics Measures


Figure 16. Principal Coca-Growing Regions, 1985

Source: Based on information from United States, Agency for International Development, A review of AID's Narcotics Control Development Assistance Program, Washington, 1986, E-2.

In February 1987, Bolivia and the United States signed a broad outline of an agreement on a three-year, US$300 million joint plan aimed at eradicating 70 percent of Bolivia's known coca fields. The new program included a one-year voluntary eradication phase and a program in which coca growers would be paid US$350 in labor costs and US$1,650 in longer-term development assistance for each hectare of coca destroyed. According to the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics Matters, Bolivia exceeded the voluntary coca reduction target for the September 1987 to August 1988 period, destroying 2,000 hectares, or 200 more than required.

To implement the 1987 agreement, the Paz Estenssoro government revamped the antidrug bureaucracy that had been established, incongruously, in 1981 during the García Meza regime. The National Council Against the Unlawful Use and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs (Consejo Nacional Contra el Uso Indebido y Tráfico Ilícito de Drogas--Conalid), presided over by the foreign minister, was charged with drawing up rules and regulations and creating new antidrug-trafficking measures. Two new secretariats were formed under Conalid. The Social Defense Subsecretariat (Subsecretaría de Defensa Social) was made subordinate to the Ministry of Interior, Migration, and Justice and charged with interdiction. It also centralized all the activities of the National Directorate for the Control of Dangerous Substances (Dirección Nacional para el Control de Substancias Peligrosas-- DNCSP) and of the Umopar. The Subsecretariat of Alternative Development and Substitution of Coca Cultivation (Subsecretaría de Desarrollo Alternativo y Sustitución de Cultivos de Coca) and its Coca Eradication Directorate (Dirección de la Reconversión de la Coca--Direco) were charged with drawing up overall rural development plans for the areas affected by the substitution of the coca plantations.

On July 19, 1988, to qualify for United States aid, Paz Estenssoro signed the Law of Regulations for Coca and Controlled Substances (Ley del Régimen de la Coca y Sustancias Controladas)- -hereafter, the 1988 Antinarcotics Law. One of the strictest antinarcotics laws in Latin America, it aimed at eradicating illicit coca production and penalizing trafficking in drugs. As enacted by presidential decree in December 1988, the new law provided for a 10,000-hectare zone of legal coca cultivation in the Yungas region of La Paz Department and a small section of Cochabamba Department to meet traditional demand (down from a previous total of 80,000 hectares for the Yungas and Chapare regions) (see fig. 16). It also provided for a transitional zone of excess production in the Chapare region subject to annual reduction bench marks of 5,000 to 8,000 hectares and provided for an illegal zone, comprising all territory outside the traditional and transitional areas, in which coca cultivation was prohibited. The law prohibited the use of chemicals or herbicides for the eradication of coca, established that some 48,000 hectares of coca plantations would be eradicated over a five-year period, and set up a special judicial mechanism to deal with illegal drug trafficking.

Under the 1988 Antinarcotics Law, drug traffickers could be sentenced to prison for anywhere between five and twenty-five years; manufacturers of controlled substances, five to fifteen years; sowers and harvesters of illicit coca fields, two to four years; transporters, eight to twelve years; and pisadores (coca stompers), one to two years. Minors under the age of sixteen who were found guilty of drug-related crimes would be sent to special centers until they were completely rehabilitated.

Shortly before the new law went into effect, a United States General Accounting Office report criticized Bolivia's methods of fighting drug trafficking. The study, whose undocumented generalizations about corruption reportedly irked Bolivian government officials, put the primary blame for the slow progress against drug trafficking on rampant corruption in Bolivia and "the unwillingness or inability of the government of Bolivia to introduce and implement effective coca control and enforcement measures." In rejecting the report, the minister of interior, migration, and justice noted in November 1988 that, in addition to arresting more than 1,000 individuals on drug charges, Bolivia had eradicated some 2,750 hectares of coca plantations, seized 22,500 kilograms of cocaine, and destroyed over 2,000 cocaine factories. Bolivian officials also asserted that more than 1,660 antidrug operations during 1988 had resulted in the destruction of from 1,000 to 1,400 clandestine cocaine factories and laboratories (80 percent of them in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz departments), the confiscation of about 10,000 kilograms of cocaine, and the arrest of some 700 individuals. The minister of planning and coordination stated in December that 2,900 hectares of coca crops had been eradicated under the financial compensation program.

Bolivia's antinarcotics units apprehended several prominent traffickers in 1988. At the same time that the 1988 Antinarcotics Law was promulgated, the Umopar arrested Suárez at his hacienda in Beni Department. According to one theory, Suárez allowed himself to be arrested in a bid to avoid extradition to the United States (see The Criminal Justice System , this ch.). In October 1988, the Special Antinarcotics Forces captured an alleged drug "godfather," Mario Araoz Morales ("El Chichin"), by chance during a training exercise in a jungle area. In November antidrug police in the Chapare also arrested Rosa Flores de Cabrera, alias Rosa Romero de Humérez ("La Chola Rosa"), described as one of the most-wanted women in the Bolivian drugtrafficking network, with connections to the Medellín Cartel.

Under the government of Jaime Paz Zamora (1989- ), antidrug institutions were restructured, but Conalid remained the regulatory body. Conalid directed the Permanent Executive Coordination and Operations Council (Consejo Permanente de Coordinación Ejecutiva y Operativa--Copceo). Like Conalid, Copceo was headed by the foreign minister, and its membership also included the ministers of interior, migration, and justice; planning and coordination; social services and public health; agriculture, campesino affairs, and livestock affairs; education and culture; national defense; and finance. A new National Executive Directorate (Directorio Ejecutivo Nacional--DEN) was to support Copceo's plans and program dealing with alternative development, drug prevention, and coca-crop eradication.

Data as of December 1989

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