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Bolivian and Peruvian Government re-assess Coca Eradication

August 18, 2011

The Huallaga valley is Peru's second largest coca producing region

In Bolivia, where the growing of coca plants for medicinal, cultural and religious purposes is legal, but the growing for the production of cocaine remains banned, the eradication of illicit crops has also been continuous, according to one former legal grower.

Former leader of coca growers of Los Yungas region Savino Mendoza said the government of President Evo Morales had changed tactics but not suspended its efforts.

“Eradication used to be carried out by force, with the help of the military, but under the new strategy the (government) comes to an agreement with the coca-producing communities to fulfil the international conventions for eradication.”

Opposition politicians in Peru have been critical of the suspension.

Former Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi said it sent the wrong signal.

“It says to coca producers and guerrillas, ‘Go ahead, plant your coca, nothing will happen’,” he said.

Interior Minister Oscar Valdes said the government’s commitment had not wavered.

“In his message to the nation, President Ollanta Humala has been very clear: The government will not permit the extension of illicit crops and will work decisively to reduce them,” he said.

US Ambassador to Lima Rose Likins said she was awaiting further information on the decision.

But she said it was “natural” that a new government would want to re-assess its programmes and stressed that the US was keen to continue collaborating with the Peruvian government.

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