Bolivia blames production on cocaine consumers

Bolivia went on the offensive on Wednesday over a controversial new law increasing cultivation of coca, the raw material for cocaine, placing the blame for cocaine production on countries that consume it.

Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera told newsmen that cocaine-consuming countries have more power to stop production than producers themselves.

“It’s not production that creates demand.

“The day they make an effort to stop the demand, cocaine production will end. That is their obligation too,’’ he added.

The remarks followed the enactment of a controversial law last week expanding the land area that can legally be used to cultivate coca, from 12,000 to 22,000 hectares.

Bolivia produces 15 percent of the world’s coca, which is used as a raw material for cocaine.

According to UN data in the last decade, Colombia is the leading producer of coca crops with 52 per cent and also, managed to reduce coca cultivation from 31,000 to 20,200 hectares.

However, anti-drug monitoring by the U.S. established that there are actually 36,500 hectares planted with coca in different regions of the country.

In testimony on Tuesday before the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the fight against drug trafficking.

Romero also disputed Bolivian media reports saying that seven out of ten Bolivians chew coca leaves daily.

“The correct figure is three, according to a 2012 European Union-financed study.

“The study established that 36 percent of Bolivians consume coca against hunger and altitude sickness,’’ he said.

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