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Bolivia Coca Production Fell 12% in 2011, UN Survey Says

Bolivia’s cultivation of the coca leaf, the raw material used to produce cocaine, dropped roughly 12 percent in 2011 from 2010, according to a survey published today.

The national coca monitoring survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Bolivia’s government showed that the area under cultivation decreased to 27,200 hectares from 31,000 (105 square miles from 120), marking the first such decline in the Andean nation since 2005.

The survey’s release follows last week’s publication of a U.S. government report that found Bolivia had “failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international narcotics agreements.” Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca farmer, rejected the U.S. position.

“If they want authority in the fight against drug trafficking, why doesn’t the U.S. eliminate the market in the U.S.?” Morales said Sept. 15 in the state of Potosi.

The U.S. Presidential Memorandum also listed Venezuela and Myanmar as having failed to fight the drug trade.

The coca leaf has an important role in indigenous Bolivian religion and culture, and the government accepts cultivation of 77 square miles of coca leaf for traditional uses.

Bolivia expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008, and withdrew in 2011 from a UN convention that limits chewing the coca leaf.

Data published by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy also note a decrease in 2011 from 2010, but said potential cocaine production increased due to more efficient production techniques.

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