Side Event: The Bolivian Model for the Fight Against Drug Trafficking

Ricardo Martínez Covarrubias, Permanent Mission of Bolivia in Vienna | Presents the speakers.

Felipe Cáceres, Vice-Minister of Social Defence and Controlled Substances | We welcome alternatives to the War on Drugs, which has brought upon us death and human rights violations. Any decision to implement the UNGASS Outcome document will have to be framed by the principle of sovereignty, non intervention and have to comply with internal legislation. From 2006, Bolivia decided to produce its own drug policy to control the illicit production, trafficking and consumption with outstanding results. We nationalised  the fight against drugs, without denying the support of the international cooperation, but boosting our military and security capacity with own means.

One of the main aspects of our policy was the reservation on coca leaf chewing (acullico), initially criticised by many countries that thought Bolivia could become a narco-state. Time has proven us right. It’s a cultural and ancestral practice that is a part of our identify. We have consolidated the respect of human rights, focusing counter-drug efforts against criminal organisations and not, like in the past, against coca-growing, social organisations. In this sense, our country has had important results through the social control of coca. An inclusive and participatory approach. The UNODC recently showed a reduction of coca-growing in Bolivia. We now produce only 18% of the region’s coca; the lowest figure in the past 10 years. The INCB has recognised our efforts too.

Finally, we thank the unconditional support and contribution of the EU in implementing the strategy against drug trafficking and to reduce surplus coca crops. Fighting against drug policy cannot be a unilateral effort, we value bilateral and multilateral cooperation, complying with international norms within the framework of shared responsibility.

We are committed to the life and peace of our people, so we will always focus our efforts towards wellbeing, sovereignty and peace.

Nardy Suxo, Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Bolivia | Cultivation takes place mostly in the regions of the Trópico de Cochabamba and the North of La Paz. The people cultivating are men and women coming to these regions as a re-localisation efforts of previous governments that followed diktats of the Washington Consensus. Entire families that were expelled from mining communities had to settle in different regions and find other productive activities. They were called ‘colonising farmers’ but we call them ‘intercultural farmers’, indigenous people looking for a livelihood working the land. There was no support given to them. Drug policies stressed militarisation and focused on coca growers in the 1990s. This led to deaths among peasants, coca growers and miners. The DEA and their security houses kept people illegally imprisoned. No citizen knew where these places were located. The DEA agents gave orders in English, they were present during torture. These actions led Evo Morales to expel the DEA from Bolivia in 2008. The new model, framed within human rights, has managed to reduce the plantation surface drastically. We have strengthened an integral public policy, justice policy; the pluri-national justice service, which provides free legal advice, makes sure all legal acts are implemented for the defence of fundamental rights, based on the values of plurality and pluralism. The new paradigm is evidence-based and respects indigenous rights and human rights. The HRC organised a panel on September 2015 on the effects of drug control on human rights. Global drug policy focuses on a punitive and repressive approach. Hopefully the UNGASS will provide new instruments based on human rights, public health and the principles of development. A more effective strategy focuses on improving the quality of life of those involved in production. Bolivia will contribute to the UNGASS by presenting the seven considerations that frame its approach to drug policy.

Kathryn Ledebur, Andean Information Network | The new model does not perceive cultivators as criminals but as heads of family. The cato is given to people in places where before eradication was privileged. By allowing spaces for the lawful cultivation of coca and guaranteeing a basic income per family, the dynamics between State and coca producers radically changed. We have gone from observing 60 deaths to no deaths and injuries resulting from coca-eradication efforts. Understanding the producer as a citizen, not as a criminal, allows  the producer to participate of control efforts and creates incentives for farmers to actively participate: limited production = higher profits. Removing the need to eradicate before participating in development projects increases participation and improves relations between State authorities and farmers. This allows us to move towards other metrics of success, which should be about livelihoods, access to education, health, etc.

Freddy Monasterios, Vice-Minister of Social Defence and Controlled Substances  |

 

 

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