Cablegate: Future of Our Cn Programs and Objectives in Peru

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. LIMA 004 B. LIMA 353 C. LIMA 1288

1. (SBU) Summary: As reported reftels, our Mission counter-
drug strategy in the short term will be focused on holding the
line against expansion of coca and opium cultivation and drawing
the noose around no-go coca source zones through eradication and
alternative development. The advent in mid-2006 of a government
with a fresh popular mandate will give us the opportunity to
shift to the medium term strategy converting Peru into a
marginal narcotics producer. That status might equate to as
much as 15,000 hectares of coca and a few hundred hectares of
opium poppy. In the long term, we should expect to maintain
some level of assistance to the GOP so that it can prevent
resurgent narcotics trafficking. If our efforts are successful,
within 10 years we could achieve a stability point when illegal
drug cultivation goes down and the income/institutional capacity
of the government rises to the point that Peru can manage the
problem on its own. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Embassy Lima's overarching counter-narcotics objective
is to help Peru become a marginal producer of illegal coca and
opiates. Over the next 16 months, under a weak Toledo
Government, holding the line against increased
cultivation/production of coca is the best we are likely to
achieve. We can draw a noose around the traditional coca
cultivation areas but see no prospect that the GOP will
undertake serious eradication efforts there during a volatile
electoral period. (Extensive information indicates that
cocaleros in the core cultivation areas are prepared to resist
eradication with armed force.) For now, we will focus on
stamping out expansion. The government that emerges from the
April/May 2006 national elections will have a fresh popular
mandate and a longer-term focus; its incentives to confront
cultivation in the lawless no-go zones will be far stronger.
Our goal will be to work with that Administration to make Peru a
marginal narcotics producer within its term. In the area of
opium poppy, our short-term goals are more ambitious. There are
no political obstacles to eradication when we find poppy. We
will develop significantly improved human and technical
intelligence on areas of cultivation in coming months that will
guide more robust interdiction and eradication efforts.

3. (SBU) Marginal production of illegal coca might equate to as
much as 15,000 hectares of total cultivation. The benchmark for
supplying traditional use is around 9,000 hectares; the residue
would still go to the drug trade. It would also entail a few
hundred hectares of opium poppy (there are still no reliable
estimates of how many hectares are currently under poppy
cultivation in remote areas). Even after reaching this point
we would need continuing though reduced levels of assistance to
help the GOP maintain a permanent capability to contain the
illegal drug industry and to stop it from springing back. Our
operational goal is getting to the stability point, that is,
when illegal drug cultivation goes down and the
income/institutional capacity of the government rises so that
Peru can manage the problem on its own.

4. (SBU) This stability point remains some way off. The
current political and economic realities of Peru do not point to
a dramatic change in government or private sector investment in
the Andean highlands or rainforest, which could dissuade farmers
from growing coca. There is weak public support for forced
eradication; rather there is a tendency to view coca producers
as poor farmers who are the least culpable in the drug-
trafficking industry. This is reflected in politicians'
attitudes that tend towards appeasement of coca growers.
Improved prices are causing a surge in new coca cultivation and
production. Historically, Lima-centric national governments
have horribly neglected the hinterland. The GOP is pressed by
population growth in cities growth that is the result of that
neglect. Lack of central government presence in rural areas,
(i.e., little or no provision of social or economic services and
infrastructure, scant or weak law enforcement, and a judicial
vacuum), is fostering a climate of lawlessness and impunity
within and beyond the coca source zones. Newly decentralized
regional governments lack authority, experience, resources and
influence and are poorly equipped to deal with the problems of
narcotics trafficking.

5. (SBU) We can claim some areas of progress in strengthening
government capabilities, such as new police resources coming on
line east of the Andes that let us for the first time try
sustained interdiction close to the source zone as a way of
pushing down/disrupting leaf prices. We successfully helped
shape legislation on control of precursor chemicals and are
working on implementing regulations. We have made some inroads
in disrupting drug production through logistical support for
regular interdiction operations in the source zones. Recent
multi-ton seizures of cocaine destined for shipment to the US
offer proof that our focus on ports is paying off. Not
surprisingly, narco-traffickers are adapting and using new
6. (SBU) The Alternative Development Program is an essential
element of the Embassy's counter-narcotics efforts, contributing
directly to the containment approach outlined in this cable.
Voluntary eradication has accounted for more than 8,000 hectares
of coca reduction over the last two years, improving the social
and economic conditions in coca-growing communities. Of equal
importance, it provides the GOP a useful tool in managing the
internal politics of counter-narcotics. (The cocaleros fully
understand this, which is why they try to intimidate AD workers
and communities on the one hand while louding asserting that
alternative development doesn't work on the other.) In CY 2005,
it is likely that it will not be feasible to pursue voluntary
eradication in hard-core areas, such as the VRAE. However,
opportunities exist to voluntarily eradicate up to 3,000
hectares in traditional coca-growing areas, which in close
operational collaboration with forced eradication and
interdiction will permit the consolidation of broader coca-free
areas. These joint efforts will establish contiguous
communities/jurisdictions in which sustainable licit economic
development can be pursued, push out the coca-frontier, and
further isolate hard-core coca-growing areas/populations. With
more aggressive and sustained a GOP interdiction and forced
eradication in the future (especially after the 2006 elections),
we expect that voluntary eradication will be feasible in more
hard-core areas, and alternative development resources will
focus increasingly on ensuring the sustainability of coca
reduction and licit economic development in expanding coca-free

7. (SBU) In the medium term, the picture grows brighter. A
Free Trade Agreement with the United States would bolster Peru's
exports. A more prosperous economy and a stronger democratic
government in Lima would be better equipped to shoulder the load
of containing illegal coca and preventing an opium industry from
taking off. But, we estimate that for at least the next 10
years, USG involvement in counter-narcotics will be critical.
We will need to use our assistance to maintain policy influence
in Peru, ensuring that improvements are sustained. We must
above all avoid the proliferation of no-go zones void of state
presence that could end up creating a narco state-within-a-

8. (SBU) Over the next 12 months, we will working hard to
strengthen GOP counter-narcotics capabilities. These efforts
will include the creation of document review groups and cargo
container inspection teams at key seaports and Lima's
international airport - major cocaine transshipment points. We
will eradicate 8,000 hectares of managed coca focusing on new
areas of expanded cultivation. We will establish a 120-member
Eradication Security Group within DINANDRO to provide effective
security to CORAH workers. Through our NAS-supported police
academies, we will increase government law enforcement presence
in coca-source zones by graduating 400 policemen, who will be
assigned to anti-drug units for the next 3 years. Another 400
students will begin an 18-month course of study in 2005. We
will enhance infrastructure to accommodate 200 police at key
forward operating bases in the VRAE and Monzon valleys. These
bases will permit sustained interdiction activities in areas
where drug-trafficking and narco-terrorism activities have gone
unchecked. We will establish a Mobile Road Interdiction Group,
trained to detect contraband from precursor chemicals to drugs
using gamma ray equipment in the drug source zones. We will
augment media and public relations campaigns to educate Peruvian
politicians, opinion leaders and the public on the link between
drug cultivation, narco-trafficking, and a growing domestic drug
consumption problem in Peru.

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