WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
5 Dec 2013 | Commentary

Shifts in Cultivation, Usage Put Bolivia’s Coca Policy at the Crossroads

By WOLA Senior Fellow Coletta A. Youngers

This briefing was originally published by the World Politics Review

The violence that erupted during a coca eradication campaign in Apolo, Bolivia, in October was sadly reminiscent of the violence and conflict that characterized the “zero coca” policies of previous Bolivian administrations. By the time the confrontation ended, three members of the security forces and a doctor were dead, and nearly 30 people were wounded. Fortunately, the Apolo deaths are an anomaly, both because such violence is now extremely rare in Bolivia and because forced eradication is only taking place in very limited areas of the country deemed to have excess coca cultivation. Nonetheless, the incident illustrates the complex political waters that the government of Bolivian President Evo Morales has to navigate in meeting the demands of its coca grower base while reducing coca cultivated for illicit markets.

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