LA PAZ, Bolivia ( Associated Press) — The European Union and the United Nations warned Bolivia Tuesday about the presence of synthetic drugs in the local market, while production of coca, the raw material for cocaine, showed a slowing. increase as compared to previous years.
“There were seizures of synthetic drugs including fentanyl, an opioid that causes a large number of deaths in Europe. There is a national market. This is a problem for us and it will be for Bolivia”, said Trolls Wester, Drugs & Crime Representative in the country of the United Nations Office at (UNODC, for its abbreviation in English).
During the presentation of the annual report on illegal crops carried out by that agency, it was reported that 30,500 hectares of coca were registered in Bolivia in 2021, an increase of 4% from the previous year, the lowest in recent years. Is. Bolivian law allows only 22,000 hectares for traditional consumption.
But government minister Eduardo del Castillo denied the UNODC report for the first time since that organization carried out the monitoring. According to the official, there was a “net reduction” of 0.7% in 2021, so the total area reached 29,200 hectares.
According to Bolivian officials, Bolivia produces 10% of coca, compared to Colombia’s 204,000 hectares and Peru’s 80,681, the three world producers of that leaf.
On his part, European Union (EU) ambassador Michael Dozzi said the bloc is “Bolivia’s partner in the fight against drug trafficking” having contributed more than $100 million since 2008 and remarked to the government that “Coca crops are increasing, although at a slow pace.”
According to the diplomat, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the production and consumption of drugs in the world, including cocaine.
In Bolivia coca is grown on the Andean slopes in furrows similar to steps to retain water as was done before the Incas. Planting up to 22,000 hectares for chewing, an intensive practice, and also legal for infusion and medicinal use. More than 50,000 families are devoted to planting. According to UNODC, the coca economy generates $400 million per year, which is equivalent to 1.5% of Bolivia’s GDP.