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Viewing cable 06LAPAZ417, MINISTER OF PRESIDENCY ON COCA, ERADICATION, AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06LAPAZ417 2006-02-16 23:11 2010-12-03 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy La Paz
VZCZCXRO0302
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLP #0417/01 0472310
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 162310Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8110
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 5607
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2872
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6744
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 3968
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1316
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 1215
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 3568
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 3953
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 8470
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LA PAZ 000417 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR WHA A/S T.SHANNON AND PDAS C.SHAPIRO 
STATE FOR WHA/AND P.FRENCH AND L.PETRONI 
NSC FOR D.FISK 
USCINCSO ALSO FOR POLAD 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON SNAR PINR PHUM EAID BL
SUBJECT: MINISTER OF PRESIDENCY ON COCA, ERADICATION, AND 
BILATERAL RELATIONS 

REF: LA PAZ 0406 

Classified By: Ambassador David Greenlee for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 

1. (C) Summary: Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramos de la 
Quintana told the Ambassador February 15 that the GOB wanted 
USG agencies to continue their programs in the Chapare, 
though implementation methods may need to be modified. He 
acknowledged that the GOB's counternarcotics policies were 
still being formulated, but assured that the GOB's commitment 
to combat the illicit drug trade would be met and that the 
cocalero federations did not speak on the GOB's behalf. 
Quintana said the depenalization and industrialization of 
coca was a priority for President Evo Morales. The Minister 
said cocaleros would be paid to eradicate coca in the 
national parks while other negotiated alternatives would be 
pursued with the cocalero federations. On interdiction, 
Quintana asked for greater information sharing from the DEA 
on organized criminal networks. When the Ambassador raised 
objections about anti-U.S. rhetoric creeping into GOB 
statements, the Minister blamed the Bolivian press for 
distorting reality. Quintana was forthright, somewhat 
confused, and suspicious of USG programs. The new GOB may or 
may not be disposed ideologically to work with us; but it 
certainly does not yet have the internal cohesion or 
coherence to cooperate effectively. End Summary. 

--------------------------------------------- --------- 
FIRST MEETING WITH MINISTER OF THE PRESIDENCY QUINTANA 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 

2. (C) At our request, the Ambassador, DCM, and Econ/Pol 
Chief met the evening of February 15 with Minister of the 
Presidency Juan Ramos de la Quintana to seek clarification of 
GOB policy regarding USG programs in the Chapare. Newspaper 
headlines that morning carried the cocalero federations' 
decision to throw out USG agencies operating in the region, a 
position supported by GOB spokesman Alex Contreras (see 
reftel). The Ambassador told Quintana that the federations' 
statements--Evo Morales remains their titular head--and the 
apparent presidential endorsement had sparked considerable 
confusion about the GOB's intent. The Ambassador suggested 
that if eradication is to be stopped and USG involvement in 
the Chapare ended, the new policy should be communicated 
officially and we could begin shutting off our multi-million 
dollar assistance programs now. 

3. (C) Quintana responded that he appreciated open, frank 
exchanges free of entangling rhetoric and underscored the 
GOB's continuing need for U.S. help on the counternarcotics 
front. But, he added, that message is not being clearly 
communicated because "...we do not yet have an agreement 
between the GOB and all the relevant actors on this issue." 
At the same time, he said the cocalero federations did not 
speak on behalf of the GOB, which has a stronger commitment 
than previous administrations and wants to "...break the 
stigma that Bolivia protects narcotraffickers." 

4. (C) In that vein, Quintana claimed the GOB had a sound 
strategy to combat the illegal drug trade: compartmentalizing 
the problem into "clear chapters" for greater enforcement 
efficiency on the one hand, and depenalizing coca for 
industrialization and commercialization on the other. 
"Depenalization is a complex but necessary task because we 
want coca to have commercial and industrial purposes. This 
is an explicit priority for the President," he said, adding 
that the GOB would meet next week with EU representatives to 
discuss the terms of the demand study required for domestic 
purposes. (Note: While not stated, the implication was that 
the EU study should include consideration of Bolivian 
domestic demand to include coca necessary for these 
yet-only-imagined industrial purposes. End Note). 

--------------------------------------------- - 

LA PAZ 00000417 002 OF 003 


A NEW APPROACH TO ERADICATION AND INTERDICTION 
--------------------------------------------- - 

5. (C) Quintana said the GOB would preserve the best of 
previous GOB policies, including eradication, but implement 
them differently. The first priority, he offered, is to 
limit additional cultivation, although he added curiously 
that the GOB would not strictly interpret the 3200 hectare 
limit for Chapare cultivation set aside by the October 2004 
agreement. He assured that eradication would continue in the 
two problem areas of the Carrasco National Park and the 
Yungas de Vandiola, saying that he would travel to the region 
himself this weekend to meet with cocaleros, but noted that 
existing military eradicators would work only in the areas 
where they can proceed peacefully, with negotiation--an 
open-ended concept--the rule in more conflictive zones. 

6. (C) Quintana saw no change in the GOB's willingness to 
cooperate with the USG on interdiction and noted that the DEA 
was welcome to stay in the Chapare. The GOB's non-political 
approach to interdiction was exemplified, he said, by the 
non-partisan appointment of a new chief for the 
counternarcotics police. The Minister asserted that these 
units had committed human rights violations in the past, a 
situation this GOB would not tolerate. The Ambassador 
retorted that any such incidents did not involve DEA agents 
and that we shared Quintana's concern about human rights. 
Quintana went on to say that he was not critical of the 
results obtained by interdiction efforts, but of the methods 
used to obtain them. "In the past, because of the weakness 
of Bolivian institutions, USG involvement appeared more like 
intervention than cooperation. We ask that your cooperation 
be transparent, conducted with consideration and respect." 
While expressing a desire to be autonomous in their 
interdiction operations, he acknowledged the need for the 
USG's offer of helicopters and other equipment "in the spirit 
of shared responsibility," and said the GOB had no plans to 
alter the DEA's role in the drug enforcement arena. 

7. (C) When the Ambassador asked what immediate changes in 
the interdiction efforts were contemplated, Quintana observed 
that the GOB had little understanding of how criminal 
organizations operated in Bolivia. "All we get," he 
complained, "are statistics on drugs intercepted and labs 
destroyed, but nothing on Bolivian criminal organizations and 
their links to other countries. This makes us suspicious 
that the counter-narcotics efforts are not sufficiently 
explained to the GOB or the Bolivian people." He also 
lamented that the Bolivian anti-drug unit (FELCN) did not 
have an institute to study criminal organizations. The 
Ambassador replied that maintaining the integrity of 
international criminal investigations was crucial but that he 
would raise the issue with the DEA. 

------------------- 
INTELLIGENCE ISSUES 
------------------- 

8. (C) The Minister noted that the GOB wanted its 
intelligence services to respond better to the needs of the 
GOB and was suspicious of their relationship with the DEA. 
(Note: Quintana associated intelligence cooperation only with 
the DEA and the counternarcotics effort. End Note.) The 
Minister said that he wanted "a more democratic intelligence 
service" in the future. The Ambassador noted USG interest in 
promoting intelligence cooperation on counter-terrorism 
issues as well, given regional threats in the Tri-Border 
region and elsewhere, and suggested a subsequent meeting to 
discuss these issues in greater depth. 

----------------------------------------- 
MUTUAL DESIRE FOR CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT 
----------------------------------------- 


LA PAZ 00000417 003 OF 003 


9. (C) The Ambassador expressed concern about anti-U.S. 
rhetoric creeping into GOB statements and policies and warned 
that gratuitous insults did not encourage strong bilateral 
ties. Talking about imaginary U.S. military bases in 
Paraguay "as you have done publicly, Mr. Minister," does 
little to build confidence. Noting the billions of U.S. 
dollars of assistance in the past few decades, including the 
nearly one million in disaster assistance for Bolivian flood 
victims, the Ambassador observed that the USG would sometimes 
appreciate a good word or thank you, something President 
Morales notably forgot to offer in his conversation with 
President Bush. 

10. (C) While acknowledging that the GOB probably had no 
intention of ratifying an Article 98 agreement, the 
Ambassador asked that the GOB respect the U.S. position 
without intentionally mischaracterizing it and claiming that 
the U.S. sought to shield its soldiers from justice. The 
issue is one of jurisdiction, not immunity, he said, and 
noted that over 100 countries had signed Article 98 
agreements with the U.S. 

--------------------------------------------- ------ 
ATTACKING THE PRESS AND RE-ORIENTING USG ASSISTANCE 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

11. (C) Quintana, perhaps a little disingenuously, said he 
shared the Ambassador's concerns about poisonous rhetoric, 
but blamed the press for distorting the GOB's comments about 
the U.S. He described the Bolivian press as unprofessional 
and perverse because it was too closely associated with 
political parties. At the same time, Quintana said the U.S. 
was counterproductively omnipresent in Bolivian 
institutions--an ironic exageration in view of reportedly 
increasing Venezuelan and Cuban presence--and suggested that 
our assistance was too dispersed to be strategically 
effective. He lamented the uneven economic development 
throughout the country, noting that Potosi remained in abject 
poverty while Santa Cruz was developing fast "with its 
radical federalist ideas," and suggested a U.S. Corps of 
Engineers road project uniting the country would be a smart, 
focussed investment. The Ambassador reminded Quintana that 
the GOB nixed expanded military help by attacking us on 
Article 98. 

12. (C) Comment: Quintana seemed forthright, a little 
confused, and abidingly suspicious of USG intentions. He 
exposed inaccurate views about existing USG programs, a 
strong ideological bent on coca, and a disturbing 
disaffection with the media--particularly disturbing since 
the MAS is considering laws to limit freedom of press. His 
most revealing comment was that the GOB is still struggling 
to clarify its policies, including on counternarcotics. 
Whether the new GOB wants to work with us is an open 
question; whether it can work with us is equally perplexing. 
End Comment. 
GREENLEE