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In 2003, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled to the U.S. amidst violent protest. While the civil unrest that led to his leaving was partly due to income taxes and a natural gas export plan, it was also partly due to what columnist Robert Novak called, "The backlash to U.S.-sponsored coca eradication in Bolivia..."
In any event, what is undisputed is that coca cultivation is back on the rise in Bolivia, growing almost as quickly as anti-U.S. sentiment towards forced eradication policies. (Cultivation is up 17 percent in 2002 according to the 2003 State Dept. narcotics control report.)
If policy makers were tasked with making a plan to ensure widespread instability, corruption, lawlessness and a steady flow of illegal wealth for narco-terrorists, they would be hard pressed to come up with a policy more successful than that already in place in Latin America.
That American drug-warriors are already in place in the new Homeland Security department should be worrisome enough. After all, American style liberty and the bill of rights are generally viewed as pesky impediments to the drug war mission, and counter-terrorism as secondary to the well being of the bureaucracy.
But that the presidential challenger intends to place at the top of the Homeland Security bureaucracy a key architect and defender of a failed, cruel, destructive war on some of the poorest people on this planet is especially depressing. Those trying to decide who to vote for based on what the next four years of drug policy may bring will find themselves in much the same position as a Colombian subsistence farmer—somewhere between a rock and a hard place.