Les Pasnak, from the comments section of the previous post:
I find Lindaâ€™s post to be very misleading. There are legitimate uses for the coca leaf which is why the previous government allowed farmers to sell the coca plants to legitimate buyers. The amounts were regulated because selling to a drug trafficker is still the most profitable reason to farm coca. Bolivia is one of the poorest nations in the Americas, where 64% of the population lives under their poverty line. The idea that there is greater profit in selling teas and soda to people that cannot afford them, rather than selling the coca to make cocaine, is pretty naive.
There are some inaccuracies in Lindaâ€™s statement that the DEA is â€˜carpet-bombing the mixed fields in which food and coca are grown for peasant domestic production.â€™ I am going to assume she is referring to spraying the crops as opposed to actual carpet-bombing, but the statement is still false. All illicit coca crop eradication in Bolivia must be done manually, the US is not allowed to spray any coca crops. And the people that mix in coca plants with domestic crops are doing so to hide the coca plants. Legitimate farmers do not mix crops.
Linda then states that there is no cocaine production in Bolivia, but Bolivia still produces an estimated 60 metric tons of cocaine a year. This is down from the 1992 estimate when Bolivia produced 192 metric tons of cocaine. The reason? The very same â€˜misguidedâ€™ policies of the US that she disparages in her post. The US and the UN have had success in helping farmers to grow other crops than coca. While it is easy to cast aspersions on the intent of US foreign policy are we now to believe that the UN has ulterior motives as well?
The statement that â€˜it is very sensible to engage someone who knows the difference between coca and cocaine as a minister for social defenseâ€™ is the same reasoning used by the White House when they appointed Enron, Exxon and others to work out the Bush energy policy. But I have a feeling that Linda, and other people that champion this decision by Morales, does not feel the same way about President Bush.
I am disappointed that people would allow their anti-American feelings to blind them to the danger of this decision. Not only will drug traffickers benefit from legalization of the coca plant, but increasing the amount of coca grown will do serious damage to the environment of Bolivia.