From Conflict to Collaboration: An Innovative Approach to Reducing Coca Cultivation in Bolivia (IJSD)

By Kathryn Ledebur and Coletta A. Youngers for Stability: International Journal of Security & Development


Upon his presidential election, Bolivian coca grower leader Evo Morales adopted a policy of promoting consensual coca reduction through social control, a sophisticated coca monitoring system, and economic development. That strategy is paying off. In 2011, coca cultivation decreased by 13 per cent according to the U.S. government.
Coca Leaf Bolivia (credit: Sara Shahriari)

Coca Leaf Bolivia (credit: Sara Shahriari)

The Morales administration has also made significant progress facing the ongoing challenges of drug production and trafficking. Seizures of coca paste and cocaine and destruction of drug laboratories have steadily increased since President Morales took office. Despite continued tensions in bilateral relations, U.S.-Bolivian counter-drug cooperation continues and the signing of a new framework agreement in 2011 should lead to an exchange of ambassadors.

Internationally, Bolivia has successfully gained acceptance of the right to the traditional use of coca within its own territory. But Bolivia’s efforts must be carried out in tandem with effective demand reduction strategies to shrink the global cocaine market.

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