Andes

Bolivia: mass prisoner pardon to relieve overcrowding

Posted on December 27th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .
BoliviaBolivian President Evo Morales on Christmas Eve pardoned 1,800 prisoners held in facilities across the country—part of his ongoing effort to curtail overcrowding in the Andean nation's penal system. "The present decree's aim is to give amnesty and total or partial pardons to people who have been deprived of their liberty," Morales told a news conference in the central region of Cochabamba.

Colombia: FARC narco-factions refuse to lay down arms

Posted on December 19th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaThe historic peace process in Colombia is finally resulting in demobilization of the country's FARC guerilla fighters, who are now gathering at designated points in the countryside to turn over their arms. The effort has won President Juan Manuel Santos a Nobel Peace Prize. But FARC leaders admit that five regional commanders—said to be those most co-opted by the narco trade—are refusing to lay down arms, and have been officially expelled from the guerilla army.

Bolivia, Ecuador sign pact for legal coca trade

Posted on December 1st, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

coca leafIn open defiance of the international ban, Bolivia has just announced that it is preparing to export coca-leaf products—initially mates (herbal teas) and liqueurs—to its Andean ally Ecuador. Didi Mercado, head of the Industrialization Unit at Bolivia's Vice-Ministry of Coca, told the Bolivian Information Agency Nov. 28 that exports are to begin under a trade deal signed a week earlier in La Paz. Mercado said that with Bolivia producing an annual 600 tons of legal coca leaf, it can easily meet the internal demand of both countries. And demand is expected to grow, with exports of coca-derived soft drinks, syrups and cereals foreseen.

Venezuelan First Family scions convicted of trafficking

Posted on November 22nd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

VenezuelaAfter a high-profile but very quick trial in a US federal court in Manhattan, two young scions of Venezuela's First Family were convicted on Nov. 19 of conspiring to traffick more than 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. The two men, Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, are nephews of Cilia Flores—wife of Venezuela's embattled President Nicolás Maduro. The case came amid massive anti-government protests in Venezuela, and Cilia Flores charged that her nephews had been "kidnapped" by the DEA for political reasons. Popped just over a year ago in Haiti, they now face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

New York cocaine trial opens of Venezuelan political scions

Posted on November 8th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

VenezuelaWith Venezuela deep in political crisis, the trial opened in US district court in Manhattan this week of two scions of the country's First Family charged with cocaine trafficking. The two men, Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, are nephews of Cilia Flores—wife of embattled President Nicolás Maduro. In opening statements, Assistant US Attorney Emil Bove said the pair were secretly recorded planning to ship 800 kilos of coke from Venezuela to Honduras for re-export to the United States.

Bolivia scores major marijuana hauls

Posted on October 23rd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

AndesCochabamba region, long the heartland of Bolivian coca-leaf production, now appears to be emerging as a cannabis cultivation zone. October saw raids by the government's Special Force for the Struggle Against Narco-Trafficking (FELCN) in which eight metric tons of marijuana were seized across the region. Several campesinos were arrested, and crops burned in the fileds at various locations. La Razón newspaper names the municipalities of Omereque and Mizque as the site of major raids. Both lie on th edge of the rainforest—just where the Cochabamba plateau drops down into the Amazon. This transition zone is the country's key coca production area—but now more and more cocaleros are apparentrly turning to cannabis.

Bolivia tilting back to prohibitionist stance?

Posted on September 19th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

AndesPresident Barack Obama once again singled out Washington's biggest political adversaries in Latin America for censure in this year's White House report on global anti-drug efforts. The annual memorandum to the State Department, "Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries," released Sept. 12, lists 17 Latin American countries out of a total of 22 around the world. As has now become routine, Bolivia, Venezuela and Burma are blacklisted as countries that have "failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to the obligations under international counternarcotic agreements." (InSight Crime, Sept. 13)

'Re-narcotization' feared in Colombia

Posted on September 16th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

ColombiaDespite progress in peace talks with the FARC guerillas, Colombia can't seem to escape endemic narco-violence. On Sept. 14, a street gun-battle sparked panic in the tourist district of Cartagena, the Caribbean resort city. The clash began as sicarios (hired assassins), in broad daylight, tried to kill a paramilitary honcho being held by police. The three sicarios, wearing prison guard uniforms, attempted to enter the building where Jhon Jairo Jimenez AKA "Pichi" is held under house arrest. Two assailants were wounded and apprehended, while a third escaped. Wanted for coke trafficking, Pichi turned state witness after his arrest last year, ratting out his former cohorts in the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, popularly known as "Los Urabeños." (Colombia Reports, Sept. 14)

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