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Friedsky: Coca Cookies and Constitutional Dreams

Friedsky: Coca Cookies and Constitutional Dreams

December 2, 2005
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For years, the people of the coca-growing Chapare region of Bolivia lived in a militarized zone, in constant conflict with the U.S.- financed soldiers who came to enforce the policy for forced coca eradication. In an in-depth report today in The Narco News Bulletin, Jean Friedsky writes that though the intense militarization of the Chapare has mostly ended in the last year, the wounds still run deep and the coca growers continue to struggle for their rights to farm this ancient traditional crop.

With the increasing power of the "cocalero" movement and Chapare leader Evo Morales top in the polls for the presidency, the ultimate goal of full coca decriminalization may be closer than ever. Friedsky writes:

"[Coca grower] Apolonia [Sanchez] is standing within the 1600 square meters of coca that the government now allows her to grow. She feels at ease, knowing that the UMOPAR officials will not appear from the dense bush, suddenly attacking her and her land. The roadside military checkpoints remain and soldiers roam the fields monitoring growth but Apolonia explains that, in stark contrast to the last 16 years in the Chapare, 'we now have a relative calm.'

"'This is a time of great hope in the Chapare,' notes Egberto of Radio Chipiriri. Despite the strong criticism of Evo from parts of the Bolivia left, in the Chapare he is undoubtedly a hero. 'For them, Evo is about having someone who speaks, thinks and acts like them in the government,' Egberto adds. They draw strength and pride from his rise to power.

"But they have real expectations as well: Chapareños want an Evo-led government to re-write Law #1008 or introduce new legislation that would decriminalize coca. As well, they want a state-sponsored industrialization process.

"Evo first announced on September 20, 2005 the MAS's intention to decriminalize the coca leaf. The announcement brought criticism from the U.S. embassy, and the two other major presidential candidates — Jorge 'Tuto' Quiroga and Samuel Medina — quickly distanced themselves from his proposal."

Read the full story here:

From somewhere in a country called América,

Dan Feder
Managing Editor
The Narco News Bulletin

© Scoop Media

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