Russian Helicopters to Assist Coca Cartels



Evo Morales, Bolivia's leftist president, is a critic of the drug war—but not, alas, a completely consistent one. As other Latin American leaders turn against prohibition, the news from Bolivia looks like this:

Russia is set to supply helicopters to Bolivia to help in the fight against the illegal drugs trade, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said….

Late last year, Mr Morales halted US anti-narcotics operations in Bolivia amid tensions with Washington….

"We hope that very soon we will begin carrying out the first big contract to deliver Russian helicopters to Bolivia," President Medvedev said, describing drug trafficking as "a global threat that is a danger for the entire planet".

Since the day he took office, Morales' coca policies have been more complicated than they initially seemed. In effect, he has used the drug war to enforce a sort of farm policy that should be familiar to Norteamericanos:

First, in a nod to coca farmers, he nearly doubled the amount of land that growers can legally devote to growing coca, to about 49,400 acres. But then he tried to make them stick to another rule that prevents them from devoting more than a cato, or less than half an acre, to growing coca.

Taking a page from cartels like OPEC, organizers in the Chapare coca growers unions, where doctrinaire support of the president is prized, fanned out to convince growers that the limit would dampen supply and keep coca prices stable.

Faced with stiff penalties for disobeying, the pressure worked.

It's like someone put the DEA at the disposal of the dairy lobby.

NEXT: Follow Up: ID and Surveillance

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Maybe he just wants helicopters and is using the drug war as an excuse?

  2. When did Ponch get elected President of Bolivia?

  3. Maybe he just wants helicopters and is using the drug war as an excuse?

    It’s certainly possible, especially with large chunks of the country threatening secession. But it’s worth stressing that Morales is fighting a drug war. It just isn’t the sort of fight we think of when the phrase “drug war” comes up.

  4. That’s not Ponch. That’s Jose Conseco.

  5. I had a prof who was a complete Morales fluffer and it got old fast. The man can do no wrong because he’s a cocalero and the first indigenous president? (Not that those things aren’t groovy and all.)

    Children, questioning the leftists is bad, mm’kay?

  6. Either way, Ponch and Canseco would be mad jealous of that bling.

  7. The US Drug Czars were there to profit from the drugs trade but destroy Bolivia. Russian helicopters are there to help stop the drug trafficing without destroying the nation.

    USA is the main destination of Latin America’s drugs – its main suppliers are not Bolivia or Ecuador, but her allies Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

    Who cares about facts – not the US Administration, not this “news”reporter!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.