In a memo last Thursday, Barack Obama declared that Venezuela and Bolivia “have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotic agreements.” His argument rests upon their expulsion of DEA operatives.
To the contrary, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports that from 2010 to 2011, Bolivia’s production of coca declined by 12 percent. Eradication efforts were also up by 25 percent. Moreover, Morales’ government has confiscated over three and a half times the amount of coca intercepted by the previous administration. Though Venezuela has struggled to curtail rising violence from a spike in drug trafficking directed towards the growing European market for cocaine, Bolivia has been successful at containing the reach of organized crime and the proliferation of coca production.
Bolivia and Venezuela responded to US accusations with passion, but equally false claims. Morales correctly countered that the US was the principle source country for cocaine, but failed to relate the historical trend of falling cocaine consumption in the US.
Morales challenged, “they should tell us by what percentage they have reduced the internal (drug) market. The internal market keeps growing and in some states of the United States they’re even legalizing the sale of cocaine under medical control.”
He pointed out “that since 1961, when the first international anti-drug agreements were signed, drug trafficking has grown rather than declined.”
Beside the erroneous claims of statewide cocaine legalization, what he failed to mention was that since 1989, the US market for cocaine has declined by over 360 percent. The once enormous US market is set to be eclipsed by Europe over the next few years.
Though both sides in this squabble are rightfully upset over the actions and accusations, their conceptions of the issue are skewed by their position.