Drugs and prisons in Bolivia

09 December 2010
Article

Bolivia has announced its intention to reform its drug law (Law 1008), which has been criticized for resulting in sentences that are disproportionate to the crimes committed. But nothing has happened.

People like Mario Vargas are facing disproportionate sentences for minor offenses. In this video, Mario, a man from the highlands of Bolivia who used to work as a construction worker, plumber and waiter, describes how he was recruited by friends for night work “stomping” coca leaves. “Stomping” is the lowest level of cocaine production. One night, there was a raid. Mario remembers being beaten, interrogated on the spot, and eventually sentenced to 10 years for drug trafficking under Law 1008.

 After seven years in prison, Mario is trying to negotiate parole to be with his suffering children but the up front price – $900 dollars – is more than he can afford.