Opinion: The Coca Ordinance
Opinion: The Coca Ordinance
The rapid passage of a Regional Coca Ordinance is a thorn in the side of the Ferrero Cabinet, which has not known how to handle it, thanks to the Devida "Zar," Mr. Ericsson. At this moment, when the orders from on high are not to make waves with the U.S. Embassy about policies on drugs, coca and coca growers (because of the FTA, the continuation of police cooperation and rural development), the social climate in the high jungle has gone from warm to hot.
So along with the decision by Cuaresma (FIM), we have the continuation of mandatory eradication in Tocache, the imminent calling of a national strike in the Huallaga and Aguaytia, constant social upheaval in Apurimac and La Convención, always with the possibility of establishing ties with other social movements (mining, professional sectors, campesinos). Instead of a single agenda on coca that is realistic, definitive and designed by consensus, Ferrero and his advisers will have to do battle during the pre-electoral period with four different agendas, some of whose points are non-negotiable.
The government's main argument, voiced by Devida, is that keeping the ordinance would promote the cultivation of coca for drug trafficking, these zones would expand to the rest of the country and we would fail to comply with international obligations. The PCM is considering turning to the Constitutional Tribunal, an entity qualified to interpret and correct some of the errors and senseless aspects of Peru's current drug policy: the ending of the ENACO regime, our drug-control obligations, the need to be selective about repression. None of the arguments (fears) offered by Devida is true.
The anti-drug policy approved by simple supreme decree, which has not been offered for consultation or debated in Congress, is regularly enforced by the National Police, Devida and implementing agencies. So while there have been notable successes (the cocaine complex in the Perené, the confiscation of acetone), there are seriously questionable policies (eradication in any of its forms or the tiny rural development programs). If they had greater scope and flexibility, successes in other areas could be emphasized while coca crop policies are corrected (Decree Law 22095, a new census of coca growers).
At the end of the month there will be a meeting of regional experts. Have our friends at Devida sent out invitations? I'm sure they won't, because they don't like open debate.
There is no need for Cuaresma's ordinance to affect the anti-drug strategy. Rather, it responds to the government's recognition of a specific region within its local jurisdiction and to an ancestral custom that is accepted in national and international law. Article 14 of the U.N. Convention on the fight against international drug trafficking recognizes traditional use.
The Peruvian strategy recognizes the traditional market. We have the Presidential Declaration of Ilo (1993), which stresses a renewed recognition of the value of the coca leaf in Peru and Bolivia. The coca crop situation (decrease or increase) does not depend on an ordinance - or any other decision - but is a corollary of its relevance to the illegal drug-trafficking economy.
Properly understood, this ordinance and its specific enforcement could have reduced tensions in Qosqo and southern Peru. Far from avoiding a conflict and allowing minimal conditions of stability and governance in La Convención, however, Prime Minister Ferrero has continued to make untimely and belligerent statements, inventing another scenario for social conflict with unpredictable results. Or are they trying to fall on their faces?
Translated by Barbara Fraser