Legal farming of coca leaves creates tension between the EU and Bolivia

The Bolivian President Evo Morales criticised the EU for questioning his commitment to the fight against drugs on Saturday. This comes after Bolivia decided to double the area allocated to the legal farming of coca leaves.

The new law, which Mr Morales promoted on Wednesday, increased the area allocated to the legal farming of coca leaves from 12,000 hectares to 22,000 hectares.

According to an EU financial study from 2013, around 14,700 hectares of coca would cover the legal demand.

Despite being the main ingredient in cocaine, coca leaf is traditionally chewed and infused in the Andes. It’s used to combat hunger, fatigue and the effects of being at high altitude.

In reaction to this new law, the EU ambassador to Bolivia Leon de la Torre thought it necessary to “refocus the cooperation” between La Paz and Brussels.

Mr de la Torre did not say what form this new cooperation would take. However, on Saturday Evo Morales, who is a former coca leaf farmer himself, said that “not cooperating at all would be a bit contradictory”.

The EU is South America’s main partner in the fight against drugs. It has been since 2008, when it deported the American anti-drugs agency (DEA) which it accused of “plotting”.

(Source: Belga)

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