coca leaf

Will coca question sabotage Colombian peace process?

Posted on March 14th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .
cocaConservative enemies of Colombia's peace process are dealt some handsome propaganda assistance by the fact that as the long civil war with the FARC guerillas has wound down, coca leaf production in the country has been soaring. Fears were enflamed by a March 12 Wall Street Journal report quoting US State Department officials to the effect that Colombia now has an unprecedented 180,000 hectares under coca cultivation, with the supposed potential to produce an annual 700 tons cocaine. The figures, said to be officially released by the State Department in the coming days, are double those for 2013. (El Tiempo, March 13; Semana, March 4)

Bolivia doubles territory open to coca cultivation

Posted on March 9th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

coca leafBolivia's President Evo Morales signed into a law March 8 a bill passed by the country's congress that nearly doubles the area of national territory open to coca leaf cultivation. Law 906, or the General Law of Coca Leaf, envisions new legal commerical and industrial uses for the leaf. It replaces the far more restrictive Law 1008, passed during the Reagan-led drug war militarization of the Andes in 1988—when Bolivia's transition to democracy after years of military dictatorship was still new. "The hour has arrived to bury Law 1008, which sought to bury coca leaf in Bolivia," the presidency office said in a statement. "This is an historic day." The signing ceremony at the presidential palace was witnessesed by a delegation of coca-growers.

Colombia: peasant strike against coca eradication

Posted on February 25th, 2017 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

ColombiaFor 48 hours Feb. 21-2, hundreds of peasant coca-growers shut down the main highway between the southern Colombian cities of Tumaco and Pasto. The feared anti-riot force, the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (ESMAD), was finally called in to clear the roadway, using tear-gas and rubber bullets to break up the estimated 1,200 cocaleros. But the highway was repeatedly re-taken by the protesters. The action was called by the newly-formed National Coordinator of Coca, Opium and Marijuana Producers (COCCAM) to oppose the government's renewed "forced eradication" of coca crops in Tumaco municipality. COCCAM called the resumption of forced eradication in the area a betrayal of government commitments under the recent peace accords with the FARC guerilla movement, according to a report on Contagio Radio.

Trump appoints drug war general to lead Homeland Security

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

Shadow WatchPresident-elect Donald Trump is reported to have named the former chief of the Pentagon's Southern Command, Gen. John Kelly, as his choice for secretary of Homeland Security. As SouthCom chief, Kelly oversaw counter-narcotics operations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean from late 2012 until his retirement in January 2016. He was a notorious hardliner, which resulted in policy clashes with President Obama, the Washington Post tells us. As Homeland Security chief, he will oversee the 20,000-strong Border Patrol, with responsibility for drug interceptions along the 2,000-mile frontier with Mexico. 

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.

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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