Saturday, February 11, 2006

Long Live to Coca. Death to the Yankees

Bolivia’s President addressed his nation in front of a banner that read: “Long Live to Coca. Death to the Yankees”.

With such a that tag line, you would think Mr. Morales would announce the total legalization of Coca, a measure that would, to say the least, anger the very same country he wants dead. But instead of legalizing it, Mr. Morales actually asked farmers to voluntarily control production and adhere to a coca “cato” established by the former administration; a system that limits coca production to the Capare region and establishes a 1.200 square meters top per planting family. Morales also asked farmers to control production by themselves.

Morales actually thinks that a controlled market for legal coca derivatives can be regulated by producers. That is like asking AT&T to regulate the telecommunications market. He forgets the actual reason why farmers resort to coca: price. Since it is used to produce an illegal substance the plant sells well in the black market. Opening a market limited to legal coca derivates will only increase pressure on price and production will boom even more in Bolivia, if regulation is voluntary, or elsewhere, if regulation is forced.

No doubt coca will live long. If Morales asks farmers to voluntarily regulate a legal market, it will probably live forever.

As for the Yankees dying, it will take a bit more than asking farmers to respect a system of quotas to “stop the U.S. talking badly about us."


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