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Cablegate: Reactions to Bolivia's New Coca Strategy

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DE RUEHLP #3449/01 3551928
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211928Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1876
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6409
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 0032
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RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0017
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C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 003449

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2016
TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL SNAR BL
SUBJECT: REACTIONS TO BOLIVIA'S NEW COCA STRATEGY

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Krishna Urs
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

-------
Summary
-------

1. (C) On December 20, the DCM met with European
Union chief of mission Ambassador Andrew Standley and
United Nations representative Jose Manuel Martinez Morales
to discuss reactions to the GOB's new coca strategy which
was announced at a December 18 ceremony in the Chapare.
Poloff also attended as notetaker. The GOB's plan includes
an increase of 8,000 hectares of coca cultivation above the
12,000 currently allowed under Bolivian law. The United
Nations and European Union representatives admitted that
their respective organizations lacked a clearly defined
response to the GOB's announced plan. Ambassador Standley
said that EU member countries were all concerned with the
GOB's plan and that they preferred a discreet response
rather than a public rebuke. The DCM explained that
Bolivian anti-narcotics review in March rested on a
number of factors but that the GOB's 2007 strategy, if
implemented, could complicate the review. The DCM
repeatedly stressed the need for the international
community to have a united and clear response to the GOB's
new plan; his peers concurred and discussed convening a
mini-Dublin group meeting in early January 2007.
End Summary.

----------
Background
----------

2. (C) At a December 18 ceremony in the Chapare President
Morales unveiled the GOB's 2007 counter narcotics strategy.
The cornerstone of the strategy is the GOB's "commitment to
containing" coca cultivation at 20,000 hectares, an
increase from the 12,000 allowed under Bolivian law.
Morales also committed to improving drug consumption
prevention programs, strengthening interdiction, promoting
the industrialization of coca products, and changing
international conventions to decriminalize coca leaf.

----------------------------------------
United Nations & European Union Position
----------------------------------------

3. (C) The United Nations and European Union
representatives admitted that their respective organ-
izations lacked a clearly defined response to the GOB's
announced plan. Mr. Martinez opened with the point, and
all parties agreed, that the GOB's plan was a violation of
both international conventions (1961 Single Convention on
Narcotic Drugs) and Bolivia's own narcotics law (known as
law 1008). Ambassador Standley said that EU member
countries were all concerned with the GOB's plan and that
they preferred a discreet response rather than a public
rebuke. Standley stated his personal opinion that the GOB
will never find widespread legal (industrial) uses for
Bolivia's excess coca. Mr. Standley noted that the GOB
continues to stall EU efforts to perform a study on the
size of Bolivia's licit coca market. He mentioned that he
recently met with Pablo Solon, Bolivia's Ambassador at
large for integration and trade issues, who assured him
the GOB was still interested in the study and that it
would move forward on it in January. Standley was most
interested in hearing how the United States was planning
to respond to the GOB's plan and how it would impact
Bolivia's narcotics certification in March 2007.

----------------
DCM Urs' Remarks
----------------

4. (C) The DCM explained that Embassy La Paz had been
warned that the GOB was planning a change in licit coca
growing targets and that the Ambassador had expressed the
USG's concern over the GOB's plan prior to its
announcement. The DCM concurred that strong public
denunciations of the GOB's plan would be counter-
productive. The DCM explained that the USG was prepared
to sign its annual letter of agreement with the GOB on
counter narcotics that same day and would not abandon its
anti-drug efforts at this time. However, he emphasized
that USG officials will state both privately and publicly
that that the GOB's new strategy is a step backwards and
seems to violate international commitments.

5. (C) The DCM explained that White House review of
Bolivian counter-narcotic efforts in March rested on a
number of factors but that the GOB's 2007 strategy if
implemented would seriously complicate the review. He
explained that the USG position would push for Bolivia to
move forward on the EU's proposed coca study. In response
to this potential requirement, Mr. Martinez observed,
with a hint of sarcasm, that the GOB was likely to
announce its plan to begin the study on February 28,
2007.

6. (C) The DCM repeatedly stressed the need for the
international community to have a united and clear response
to the GOB's new plan. The DCM suggested that a mini-
Dublin group meeting be convened to develop a common
position. Ambassador Standley and Mr. Martinez concurred
with the DCM's suggestions, and the three agreed that
January 8 or 9 would be a suitable date for the meeting.
GOLDBERG

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