Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Coca cultivation

Via Plan Colombia and Beyond: Remember the billions of dollars we’re pumping into the Colombian military and private defense contractors, all the chemical spraying, the Ecuador-Colombia border disputes over eradication policies, etc., etc.? All that, and Colombian coca cultivation has increased. As of right now, President Uribe made the revelation, but the U.S. government has yet to admit it.

Don’t forget that just last month we learned that coca cultivation in Peru had increased. But wait, there’s more. Two months ago, we learned that coca cultivation in Bolivia had remained stable. In other words, the country with the government we like the least, with a cocalero president, is achieving our foreign policy goals most effectively.


Boli-Nica 11:04 AM  

This is a good thing about being Cocalero union leader. Evo has managed to create a status-quo acceptable to the cocaleros. Helps that the US -GOV (throgh DOS and DEA) seem to be taking a pragmatic approach to this, after previous agressive erradication efforts arguably produced the rise of Evo.
Morales has also put on a good public facade of promoting legal uses of the plant.
The reality is that at least half of the coca grown in-country (mostly in Chapare and also in the Yungas), is pretty much going to the narcos - mainly labs in Brazil for consumption in Europe. Partly explaining less rigid US policy.
-And it could also explain why Colombian (and Peruvian)acreage is increasing, to satisfy the demand in the US, and Europe (as well as Mexico and Brazil which are starting to see more domestic consumption)

Greg Weeks 11:47 AM  

I don't get the logic. High demand does not explain variation in supply.

Boli-Nica 4:26 PM  

I don't get the logic. High demand does not explain variation in supply.


Looking at it from a perspecitve of say 15 years, there have been changes in the demand side, with increased demand from Europe and Brazil, in addition to the US monster market.
While the demand increased, it is interference with the supply chain itself that has caused "variation in the supply." Bolivia used to be the main supplier of coca/coca paste to the Colombian cartels. These in turn are the biggest suppliers of cocaine --through the Colombia to Mexico chain-- of the US. But the cocaine cartels of Colombia have not had access to Bolivian raw materials, since the 90's. As Eduardo Gamarra of FIU, said asserting that "Bolivian cocaine is no longer available in the US markets is probably correct."
That chain was largely cut because of some of the following reasons. : a. Colombia/Peru policy of shooting down airplanes b. land controlled by guerrillas and paramilitaries in Colombia used for all steps of production c. Bolivian erradication efforts in the 90's and early 2000. d. Bolivian efforts at controlling precursor chemicals and getting rid of labs in its territory.
For an interesting look at those changes, written in 2002 check out Gamarra in , Has Bolivia Won The War

Bolivias reduced coca harvest now goes to Brazilian labs right across the border. And the country has become a transhipment point to these same labs for Peruvian base.
If Bolivia's production of illegal coca is flat, and if demand is increasing from Brazil, then it would make sense for Peru to take up the slack.

And the fact it has not increased in Bolivia is probably due to Evo Morales effectively "freezing" production at current levels - which arguably is his goal. And he does deserve credit if that is the case.

Greg Weeks 5:28 PM  

Analysis based on a 2002 article doesn't work. It is empirically true that Bolivian coca cultivation has remained stable for years now, almost totally flat for at least 5.

What we need is an analysis of exactly what Evo Morales has been doing to keep it stable. Are Goni's policies still in place? Ad hoc agreements with cocaleros?

Boli-Nica 4:34 PM  

^^^b/t/w the agressive anti-drug erradication effort "Plan Dignidad" was mostly during the Banzer/Quiroga government.
I cited a 2002 piece because it was a good snapshot, that clearly showed that Bolivias illegal production was not going to the US, and the fact that unsurprisingly the US policymakers did not take that shift into account when continuing agressive erradication.
I used it, but does not mean it was my only source in making statements about the shift in the supply chain. It is based on more recent information - including things in Gamarra's two papers with updated info, as well through talking to long-time sources in Bolivia who tend to have a good hit/miss record. I wrote about about a year ago, which confirmed the trend of most Bolivian coca and coca paste going to Brazil-Europe. In another entry, around the same time I said that given Evo's role as cocalero union head, he might be in a good position to craft some sort of agreement and make it stick.

Boli-Nica 3:09 PM  

This news item, from the AP quoting Bolivian and Brazilian drug enforcement agents, says there seems to be an increase in labs on the Bolivian side of the border. The Brazilians say the last two years there has been an increase of cocaine and coca paste destined to Brazil, based on the increase in seizures. -- which IMO is not necesarily a guarantee of an increase in production--

But as a separate matter, the lab part is a matter for concern.
In May a mega-lab with the capacity to produce 100 Kis was busted by the Bolivian gov. with DEA assistance. It was run by Colombian "chemists" using "Colombian-style" tech - including mechanical leaf grinders for the leaf- vs. "stomp on the leaf" microwave ovens to dry leaves.

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