You can bet they’re not happy in the U.S. Drug War HQ today.
Mr. Morales, 46, an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer who also promises to roll back American-prescribed economic changes, had garnered up to 51 percent of the vote, according to televised quick-count polls, which tally a sample of votes at polling places and are considered highly accurate.
At 9 p.m., his leading challenger, Jorge Quiroga, 45, an American-educated former president who was trailing by as much as 20 percentage points, admitted defeat in a nationally televised speech.
Morales has been a strong advocate of developing and marketing legal uses for the coca plant — the plant that has been used safely for centuries — for chewing, tea, soft drinks, toothpastes, medicines, etc. (Remember where Coca-Cola got its name and its original kick?)
He also pledged that under his government his country would have “zero cocaine, zero narco-trafficking but not zero coca,” referring to the leaf that is used to make cocaine.
Well, I doubt he’ll be able to live up to the “zero cocaine” boast, but if he succeeds in making coca a viable crop for commercial purposes (he’s even talking about exports), then he should be able to go far in reducing the power of narco-trafficking and the production of cocaine in his country (through both reducing demand within the country, and reducing the comparative incentives for farmers to work with criminal traffickers).
Note: Two years ago, I mentioned that denying Morales a visa was a boneheaded move by the U.S. I’ll stay with that assessment of our foreign policy.