(NaturalNews) Most Americans have been conditioned to believe that the function of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is to reduce the manufacture, sale and trafficking of illegal drugs. However, one South American nation has thrown a huge wrench into that supposition.
The government of Bolivia recently booted U.S. DEA agents out of the country, and according to a report cited by AntiMedia.com, the Bolivian government has actually managed to reduce drug manufacturing and the criminal activity associated with it since the DEA left.
As reported by the Manquehue web site, dealing in drugs now represents less than 1 percent of the Andean country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in a “sustained reduction” after the ejection of the DEA.
The site further reported:
According to data from the United Nations, Bolivia achieved a reduction in the amount of coca fields — the plant which is used as a raw material for the elaboration of cocaine — approximately in an 11% since the year 2014, and in over a 30% since 2010, which amounts to four consecutive years of decline, from over 30 thousand to some 20 thousand hectares.
No “strong-arm police” tactics
The DEA was ejected from Bolivia in 2008 following charges of conspiracy and espionage; within three years, AntiMedia.com noted, progress in the Bolivian government’s efforts to curb drug trafficking and production was already being made.
“The strategy employed by the Bolivian government may be a surprise to many prohibitionists because it did not involve any strong-arm police state tactics,” said the AntiMedia.com report. “Instead, they worked to find alternative crops for farmers to grow that would actually make them more money.”
According to a report in VICE News, the UN notes that Bolivian coca cultivation is now at its lowest point since the world body began monitoring it in 2003. In addition, the site noted that Bolivian officials are looking at even further decreases to comply with a national law that sets aside no more than 12,000 hectares for coca planting.
While the government is currently negotiating for a final allowance of 20,000 hectares, whatever the final target is will mean that Bolivia is nonetheless unique in its ability to reduce coca cultivation while avoiding the kind of violence and alienation of poor farmers that is typical of other, more orthodox, eradication methods and efforts in the region.
“Bolivia has adopted a policy based on dialogue, where coca cultivation is allowed in traditional areas alongside alternative development [in others],” Antonino de Leo, UNODC’s representative in Bolivia, told VICE News.
He added that Bolivia had mostly succeeded in its “innovative approach” that combines the unionization of coca growers and respect for human rights with forced eradication efforts in non-permitted regions.
“It’s not only about making money off a crop,” said de Leo. “In the old fashioned alternative development approach, we substitute one illicit crop for a licit crop. It’s about a more comprehensive approach that includes access to essential services like schools, hospitals, and roads in areas that traditionally have been hard to reach.”
DEA as drug dealer
Although the country’s approach to coca cultivation is novel, it should not be surprising. The country’s drug czar, as well as its president, Evo Morales, are both former coca growers.
Following his election in 2005, Morales undertook efforts to negotiate with coca grower unions, promising them he would give them higher prices for growing less coca. Recently, the UN has estimated Bolivia’s legitimate coca crop at more than $8 per kilogram of dried leaves, which several times higher than it is in Colombia and double the market rate in Peru.
The ejection of the DEA from Bolivia –- and the country’s subsequent drop in the production and sale of coca –- is most definitely unique in that the DEA has been implicated in drug-running operations, as Natural News reported recently.
In addition, Morales’ decision to eject the agency from his country was vindicated after documents surfaced showing that the DEA had been conducting covert reconnaissance in some neighboring countries, VICE News reported.