v17_2006b - A Socioeconomic Evaluation of Alternative...

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7 A Socioeconomic Evaluation of Alternative Development in the Tropics of Cochabamba, Bolivia: Findings, Observations and Policy Recommendations 1 A S OCIOECONOMIC E VALUATION OF A LTERNATIVE D EVELOPMENT IN THE T ROPICS OF C OCHABAMBA , B OLIVIA : F INDINGS , O BSERVATIONS AND P OLICY R ECOMMENDATIONS Maggie Ball, Ramón Escóbar, Steven Grin, Leslie MacKeen The coca plant, from which the narcotic cocaine is derived, has been at the core of a destabilizing and often violent national debate in Bolivia for more than two decades. Between July and September 2005, a Columbia University research team con- ducted an evaluation of the Bolivian government’s Alternative Development programs in the Tropics of Cochabamba. The team’s F ndings reveal that Alternative Development, which aims to eliminate coca production, has inadequately planned and developed viable markets for alternative goods, and has been implemented in a divisive manner that has provoked further tensions in this unstable region. This paper provides speciF c policy recommendations that aim to address deF cien- cies in the current Alternative Development agenda and offer concrete suggestions for future development programs in the Tropics of Cochabamba. I NTRODUCTION ±or decades, the international community, led by the U.S. government, has pursued policies to curtail Bolivia’s production of coca, the leaf of which Maggie Ball, Ramón Escóbar, Steven Grin, and Leslie MacKeen are Master of Arts candidates at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia Uni- versity (mmb2123@columbia.edu, rje2106@columbia.edu, sg2255@columbia.edu, lam2127@columbia.edu).
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8 Maggie Ball, Ramón Escóbar, Steven Grin, Leslie MacKeen is a principal ingredient in the narcotic, cocaine. In cooperation with the government of Bolivia, as part of a larger international F ght against narco- trafF cking, international policies have sought to eradicate coca production. Now, however, due to the overwhelming victory of Evo Morales in the December 18, 2005 presidential election, the future of coca eradication policies in Bolivia is uncertain. Bolivia’s F rst indigenous president and leader of the party Movement to Socialism (MAS), Morales began his political career in the Tropics of Cochabamba (TC) and is closely associated with anti-neoliberal and pro-coca politics. Though the implications of his victory for eradication policies and associated programs are still unclear, Morales made a campaign promise to further decriminalize coca production and vigorously condemned foreign anti-coca initiatives, further highlight- ing his rejection of American in± uence in the region. Morales, to-date, has softened his assailment of the United States and is working with the European Union to conduct a study on global licit-coca demand.
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v17_2006b - A Socioeconomic Evaluation of Alternative...

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