Bolivia Drug Farmer Demand End To Crop Eradication

Bolivia Drug Farmer Demand End To Crop Eradication
Posted by FoM on May 22, 2000 at 16:41:06 PT
Source: ABC News
Bolivia's drug producers on Sunday implored the government to stop wiping out their crop -- the raw material used for cocaine production -- within 30 days or face a strike. Bolivia is the world's third largest producer of coca after Colombia and Peru. Destruction of the crop with the backing of the United States has been a major priority for the government of Hugo Banzer in its fight against the drug trade. 
"The abuse of the military crop eradicators is intolerable and because of it we have decided to give the government 30 days to stop the destruction process and develop an alternative with farmer participation," Evo Morales, a leader of the coca producers, told radio station Panamericana. Morales said if the government does not overhaul its anti-drug campaign, coca farmers will begin tough protests with the backing of the Bolivian Workers Centre union, the country's largest. "We are going to block roads until the government understands this noisy request," said Morales, who is also a leftist congressman. In the central region of Chapare, there are some 22,238 acres (9,000 hectares) of coca, a fifth of what existed a decade ago. The government has proposed eliminating the remainder by 2001. Morales said the official policy does not comply with the mandate of substituting illegal coca with alternative crops on which the farmers can subsist. "The decision of thousands of farm families has been very clear: the government must paralyse the eradication of the coca fields and come up with a true alternative, or else violent confrontations may occur because we are ready to die rather than surrender," he said. The sub-tropical Yungas region north of the capital city of La Paz is the only place where coca leaf cultivation is presently legal, but the government announced in 1999 that production exceeds the 29,640 acres (12,000 hectares) allowed by law. President Hugo Banzer plans to eradicate the surplus by year's end. Coca farmers blocked a key highway in the area in mid-April, demanding the government promise not to eradicate any more of their fields. La Paz, Bolivia, May 21 (Reuters) NewsHawk: SledheadWeb Posted: May 21, 2000Copyright 2000 ABC News Internet Ventures. Related Articles:Fungicidal Feds Control or Bio Warfare? 
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