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Cablegate: Apra Leader Supports Eradication, Reels In

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 003998

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2015
TAGS: PGOV SNAR PE
SUBJECT: APRA LEADER SUPPORTS ERADICATION, REELS IN
REGIONAL PRESIDENT

REF: A. LIMA 3264

B. LIMA 2813

Classified By: Political Counselor Alexander Margulies. Reason: 1.4(d
).

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: APRA Party leader (and former President)
Alan Garcia, on 9/9, publicly declared illegal coca should be
eradicated and that coca eradication policy is the purview of
the GOP, not regional governments. Garcia was responding to
warnings by La Libertad Regional President Homero Burgos,
also an APRA member, that the latter would push for a
regional ordinance to prevent forced coca eradication in his
department; Burgos quickly backed down following Garcia's
pronouncement of the party line. Garcia's strong
pro-eradication stance may be a logical extension of his
criticism of Cuzco Regional President Carlos Cuaresma's (of
the anti-Aprista FIM party) attempt to promulgate a pro-coca
ordinance, but it also followed continued Embassy lobbying of
high-level APRA officials to derail pro-coca initiatives by
regional officials. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Burgos, on 9/7, told a delegation of cocaleros from
the Ongon district, Pataz Province, that he would submit to
the Regional Council a regional ordinance prohibiting the
forced eradication of coca crops. Burgos subsequently told
the press that he was opposed to the "unjust" eradication of
coca, "while the government does not have an alternative plan
with productive chains and constructs the highway to reactive
Ongon." (Note: Most known coca in La Libertad is in the
Ongon valley located on the eastern border of the region with
the coca productive zones of Monzon, Huanuco Department, to
the south and Tocache, San Martin Department, to the east.
GOP Anti-drug agency DEVIDA estimates that there are over
1,000 hectares of coca being grown around Ongon with only 26
hectares recognized for licit use by the parastatal coca
marketing agency/regulator ENACO. PNP Chief for the area
General Ocatavio Salazar Miranda confirmed in the press that
the majority of the coca grown in the region goes directly to
narcotraffickers. End Note.)

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3. (U) APRA Congressman (and party co-Secretary General)
Jorge del Castillo quickly disassociated APRA from Burgos'
action, which he described to the media on 9/8 as,
"non-viable, counter-productive and carried out without
consultation" with party authorities. Del Castillo added
that the members of the Regional Council, most of whom belong
to APRA, would not/not support the Regional President's
proposal. He concluded that APRA continues to support the
State's struggle against illicit drug trafficking.

4. (U) The next day, APRA party leader (and former
President) Alan Garcia met with Burgos and publicly
reprimanded Burgos. Coca eradication, Garcia declared, is a
national policy managed by the GOP and does not fall under
the purview of regional governments. He stressed that APRA
supports the eradication of illegal coca crops, while also
recognizing that additional resources and alternative crop
assistance are needed for farmers in the Ongon area. (NOTE:
La Libertad is not/not a region for USAID's Alternative
Development program. END NOTE.) Burgos quickly backpedaled,
stating that he would not/not move forward on the planned
regional ordinance and instead would just visit the Ongon
district to study the situation.

5. (C) The Ambassador, in a 9/13 conversation with Garcia,
took the opportunity to commend his stance on Burgos'
initiative for a regional coca eradication ordinance. The
APRA leader downplayed Burgos' proposal, saying that the La
Libertad Regional President had never proposed something as
bad as Cuzco. That said, Garcia allowed that Burgos was
suckered by the mayor of Ongon; he did not know that the
latter has a criminal conviction for narcotics trafficking.
The thing local leaders need to do, Garcia concluded, was
stay out of this issue and let the national government apply
its policies.

6. (C) Polcouns also contacted APRA's del Castillo on 9/13,
to commend him and Garcia for their swift action to derail
the Burgos proposal. Del Castillo was pleased at the
Embassy's recognition of APRA's public stance and said that
the USG can count on APRA as an ally in the fight against
illegal drugs.

7. (U) COMMENT: Burgos, as is the case with most regional
presidents, is highly unpopular in his department, and likely
advanced his anti-eradication proposal in an attempt to curry
favor with La Libertad's cocaleros. Given the GOP's and his
own party's rejection of pro-coca cultivation regional
ordinances in Cuzco and Huanuco, Burgos' initiative provides
an indication that national issues have little relevance to
regional authorities, particularly when local politics are at
play. His complaints about lack of agricultural alternatives
are pure chutzpah. La Libertad has been one of the principle
beneficiaries of agricultural exports under APTDEA, a fact
the Ambassador highlighted for the press on 9/9.

8. (C) Garcia's firm position in favor of eradicating
illicit coca is most welcome; no/no other presidential
hopeful has yet staked out a similar public stance on
eradication, though some, like Unidad Nacional's Lourdes
Flores, have come out against narcotrafficking. Garcia's
action may be a logical extension of his criticism of Cuzco
Regional President Carlos Cuaresma's (of the anti-Aprista FIM
party) attempt to promulgate a pro-coca ordinance (Refs), but
it also followed sustained Embassy lobbying of high-level
APRA officials to derail pro-coca initiatives by APRA
regional officials. On 8/23, for example, Polcouns alerted
del Castillo to a draft coca ordinance developed by an APRA
regional councillor in Ayacucho; del Castillo said he would
act on this information and the draft ordinance has yet to
resurface. END COMMENT.
STRUBLE

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