Newsbrief: US Functionaries Bluster at Bolivia 5/16/03

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An Assistant Undersecretary of State for Interamerican Affairs is the latest US official to attempt to frighten Bolivian voters and politicians away from coca growers' (cocaleros) leader and rising political figure Evo Morales. Morales has led efforts by cocaleros in Bolivia's Chapare region to undo the US-imposed forced eradication of coca crops in the region, an effort that threatens the stability of the US-backed government of President Sanchez de Lozada, and as a result has been roundly denounced by US officials, including new Ambassador David Greenlee.

coca seedlings


Last week, Undersecretary Philip Chicola added his voice to the critical US chorus. He warned that negotiating with Morales and the cocaleros would not solve Bolivia's profound economic and social problems. "To yield to Evo Morales and his cocalero mafia is not the way to resolve Bolivia's problems," Chicola said. "It is very difficult to have democracy in a country dominated by drug traffickers."

According to Chicola, all "excess" coca grown in Bolivia is grown by drug traffickers. The cultivation of coca for traditional consumption is one thing," Chicola told a meeting of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America. "The plantations with large quantities, grown by drug traffickers to produce drugs, is another," the functionary pronounced.

Morales, the cocaleros, and the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), Morales' political party, were having none of it. Morales told La Razon (La Paz) on May 8 that he did not represent a "coca mafia" and demanded that the US Embassy back up its charges with evidence. He also told La Razon he regarded Chicola's words as a threat to his physical security. "If something happens to Evo," he said, "he will be responsible."

Morales joked that the US is nervous about the success of his movement. "When the dog barks, it is because someone is walking by," he said. He also noted that while earlier attacks had come from the Embassy, "now they do it from the White House."

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Issue #287, 5/16/03 Editorial: Coddling Kidnappers | Illinois Over-the-Counter Syringe Bill Passes House, Awaits Governor's Signature | Moves Continue to Win Freedom for Tulia 13 -- Congress to Take a Look | Canada Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation Delayed -- Fears of United States, Discord in Government Cited | Alert and Clarification: Truth in Trials Act | Vote Now in Two Online Marijuana Decriminalization/Legalization Polls | World Social Thematic Forum to Address Drug Policy, Cartagena, Colombia, Next Month | Countdown to Fairness: Celebrity-Led Rockefeller Drug Law Protest Coming June 4th | Six-Year Anniversary of Esequiel Hernandez Shooting This Week | Newsbrief: Indonesia Quietly Supports Needle Exchanges | Newsbrief: US Functionaries Bluster at Bolivia | Newsbrief: US Invasion Liberates Iraqi Heroin, Cocaine Sales | Newsbrief: You Better Watch Yer Ass in Texas, Boy | Newsbrief: Utah Supreme Court Restricts Random Roadblocks, Again | Newsbrief: Supreme Court to Revisit Roadblock Ruling | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: New Jersey Drug Warrior Prescribes More Aggression | The Reformer's Calendar

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