assistance helped reduce coca production in Peru and Bolivia.
They extort protection money from coca and poppy growers and might be narcotraffickers.
Recent field visits encountered evidence that coca growers in southern Colombia are using dangerous chemicals, such as paraquat.
For example, the expansion of coca cultivation, production, and trafficking in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia has resulted in the destruction of, at an absolute minimum, 2.
I have lobbied a longtime for the re-evaluation of the coca leaf," said Caceres, who visited Washington last November to present a paper at the Seventh International Conference on Drug Policy Reform.
Andrew Weill, a professor at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine, says there's no reason coca leaves should be prohibited from entering the United States.
Laboratories that process coca paste have sprung up in the United States, and several coca paste seizures by law enforcement officials have occurred over the last few years.
Coca paste is easier and less expensive to make and distribute than "street cocaine," he adds; thus, it may reach a wider audience of users.
Sanchez de Lozada has promised to allow farmers to grow small crops of the plant outside the traditional growing areas controlled by the government, after domestic narcotics police wiped out 70% of the nation's illicit coca fields in an effort that stretched from 1995 to 2001.
Alternative crops such as oranges, cotton, pineapple, bananas, rubber and palm oil just can't compete with coca.
reported that in 2003 the number of hectares devoted to coca
cultivation fell 16 percent, to 86,000, the lowest level since 1997.
For many of the subsistence farmers in areas such as Putumayo, coca
is the only crop that will provide enough income for survival.