Secretary of the OAS Luis Almagro will be arriving in Bolivia on the 17th of May to learn about Bolivia’s model for fighting drugs, announced Evo Morales at a press conference on thursday. Bolivia is one of the few countries to have rejected the US imposed ‘war on drugs’.
Morales is welcoming the OAS, however, maintained that they have issues with the organisation’s leadership, such as the OAS’s support for sanctions and regime-change in Venezuela. Morales said; “Luis Almagro’s visit will be interesting despite the ideological differences we have, we are for diplomacy of the people, we want relations with everyone if necessary, but sometimes there are political and ideological problems.”
Evo Morales expelled the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from Bolivian territory in 2008 and declared the end of the ‘war on drugs’. The DEA had been heavily involved in US attempts to eradicate the Coca crop, a base ingredient of cociane, but which is also an ancestral plant in Bolivian culture, used for tea, chewing and indigenous ceremonies amongst other things. The efforts to eradicate the crop led to violent repression in the Chapare region, where Evo Morales was a union leader.
Rather than a repressive approach, Bolivia’s new anti-drug model has been to allow farmers to cultivate Coca for traditional use, and work with communities to reduce what is grown for illicit use. A 2016 report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) praised Bolivia’s approach and acknowledge it’s success in reducing the amount that is diverted into the drugs trade.
Evo Morales claims that Bolivia does not need US agencies to tackle the drug trade, saying in 2017, “The United States used the war on drugs in order to control the country's politics and loot our natural resources” and that, “I do not regret the decision about the DEA and the military base,”