The future in Bolivia

Will Washington engage Morales? by Jim Lobe is a very interesting article about the challenges faced in Bolivia-U.S. relationships, with Morales in charge.
Analyst John Walsh notes:

“If he’s saying yes to coca for traditional purposes, but no to cocaine trafficking, we need to take him seriously and engage him,” he said. “There’s no doubt that he has a mandate — and a very strong one — to chart a different course on drug policy than the U.S. has always pressed on Bolivia. But we also need to reexamine that policy and how much resentment it has caused there.”

Apparently, there are some in the State Department who are smart enough to be willing to show some flexibility in this area, including top Latin American aid Thomas Shannon, who recently replaced hard-liner Roger Noriega.
But the State Department will have to contend with the hard-core drug warriors in Congress as well as the ONDCP and DEA, and the knowledge that if flexibility is shown in Bolivia, everybody down there is going to want some.

“As soon as they start talking about alternatives to eradication in Bolivia, the rest of the drug agenda comes tumbling down, because Colombia and Peru will want the same treatment,” Jawahar said.

If the U.S. doesn’t work with Morales, we could end up with a growing block of Latin American countries hostile to the U.S. If the U.S. does work with Morales, we could see a complete shift in the Latin American drug war dynamic.

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