Since kicking out the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Bolivia have found that the amount of cocaine produced in the country has dramatically reduced.
The UN have confirmed that cocaine production in Bolivia has fallen by 11% in the last year.
It was just seven years ago that the DEA left Bolivia — and only three years after that, progress was finally made. The strategy employed by the Bolivian government may be a surprise to many prohibitionists because it did not involve any strong-arm police state tactics. Instead, they worked to find alternative crops for farmers to grow that would actually make them more money.
“Bolivia has adopted a policy based on dialogue, where coca cultivation is allowed in traditional areas alongside alternative development [in others],”Antonino de Leo, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s representative in Bolivia, told VICE News.
“It’s not only about making money off a crop. In the old fashioned alternative development approach, we substitute one illicit crop for a licit crop. It’s about a more comprehensive approach that includes access to essential services like schools, hospitals, and roads in areas that traditionally have been hard to reach,” Leo added.
There are unfortunately still harsh laws against drug trafficking in Bolivia, but these have been active since the height of the drug war and have had no effect on the recent decline in production. Bolivian president, Evo Morales — a former coca farmer himself — has been less heavy handed since the DEA left the country, a move that allowed the government to develop alternatives for the struggling farmers instead.
The drug war is one of the most misunderstood subjects in mainstream political discourse, even among people who are sympathetic to the plight of responsible drug users. It is rare for someone to come out and say that all drugs should be legal, but in all honesty, this is the only logically consistent stance on the issue. To say that some drugs should be legal while others should not is still giving credence to the punishment paradigm and overlooking the external consequences of drug prohibition — or prohibition of any object, for that matter.