Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Coca salad

Peruvian President Alan García says he thinks coca would be really good in salad, tasty and nutritious. He also revealed that at the Government Palace, a top Peruvian chef offered up some tamales and pies made with coca flour, topped off by a coca liqueur. He did not indicate whether he then worked all night.

Around the same time, Evo Morales announced plans to increase the acreage of legal coca. It will go from 29,700 acres to 49,400 acres (out of a total of 62,800 acres being grown in the country).

This all comes on the heels of a spat between Colombia and Ecuador, because the former is spraying herbicides right up to the border, and Ecuador is not happy with the potential side effects. The article does not note whether the planes are being piloted by U.S. citizens, which is often the case.

Taken together, these incidents suggest a substantive and broad reaction against U.S. drug policy, with the obvious exception of Colombia. That policy can be characterized as “spray, send troops, and sprinkle in some crop substitution.” Note that the policy is not “get Americans to stop snorting cocaine.”

Are we going to hit some sort of breaking point? Consensus for U.S. policy, which was always shaky, might be crumbling apart completely. The U.S. will get out whatever sticks it has, which are not unsubstantial (e.g. perhaps refusing to extend the trade preferences with Bolivia when they come up in six months) but exactly how much leverage does the Bush administration have?


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