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Viewing cable 06LAPAZ2657, MORALES: WALKING A FINE LINE ON DRUGS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06LAPAZ2657 2006-10-02 20:08 2010-12-03 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy La Paz
VZCZCXRO7200
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLP #2657/01 2752018
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 022018Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0756
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6148
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3464
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7322
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4584
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1841
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 1881
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4051
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4477
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 9051
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
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 02 LA PAZ 002657 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2016 
TAGS: SNAR PGOV PREL BL
SUBJECT: MORALES: WALKING A FINE LINE ON DRUGS 

REF: A. LA PAZ 2637 
B. LA PAZ 2647 

Classified By: Amb. Philip S. Goldberg for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

1. (C) Summary: Following the September 29 death of two 
civilians who ambushed a GOB eradication operation in 
Carrasco National Park in Cochabamba, the Embassy's NAS 
section will begin supporting GOB eradication efforts in the 
park at the GOB's request. President Morales started 
spinning the conflict October 2, publicly declaring that the 
two civilians killed "are not cocaleros but narcotraffickers" 
in an effort to maintain the loyalty of his cocalero base. 
Regardless of how the GOB moves forward, this is likely a 
lose-lose situation for it, given Bolivians' predisposition 
toward blaming their government for civilian deaths. While 
Morales attempts to walk the political highwire, our role is 
to provide assistance to achieve US goals while keeping the 
GOB out in front. This event demonstrates that enforcing 
anti-drug laws can require tough decisions that go beyond 
Morales' simplistic rhetoric about coca being harmless. End 
summary. 

2. (C) Following the September 29 death of two civilians who 
ambushed a GOB eradication operation in Carrasco National 
Park in Cochabamba, the Embassy's NAS section will begin 
supporting GOB eradication efforts in the park at the GOB's 
request. Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera expressed 
gratitude for the Embassy's September 29 offer to assist, 
stating that President Morales had decided to begin a serious 
eradication campaign in the park and would need U.S. backing. 
At Garcia Linera's suggestion, the DCM met September 30 with 
Defense Minister Walker San Miguel to coordinate Embassy 
logistical support for the GOB campaign. Based on that 
meeting, NAS-owned C-130s and helicopters will begin 
transporting Bolivian eradicators and troops October 2. San 
Miguel told the DCM that this crisis has created an 
opportunity for improved mil-mil relations. We are taking 
careful measures to provide only logistical support, and to 
encourage the GOB to respect human rights throughout the 
planned operations. 

3. (C) President Morales started spinning the conflict 
October 2, publicly declaring that the two civilians killed 
"are not cocaleros but narcotraffickers" in an effort to 
maintain the loyalty of his cocalero base. (Note: In fact, 
the civilians did not belong to the Six Federations of 
Cocaleros of the Chapare, and therefore were not part of 
Morales' core political support. End note). Cocaleros in 
Carrasco National Park have defiantly challenged the GOB, 
saying that they will defend their coca "with blood." While 
Morales manages the public side of the conflict, the GOB is 
investigating the deaths to confirm that GOB forces did not 
commit human rights abuses. (Ironically, forensic experts 
have determined that at least one of the injured was a victim 
of cocaleros' friendly fire). 

4. (C) Comment: Regardless of how the GOB moves forward, this 
is likely a lose-lose situation for it given Bolivians' 
predisposition toward blaming their government for civilian 
deaths, as in October 2003. If the GOB takes a hard line and 
begins eradicating Carrasco National Park in earnest, the 
backlash from Morales' core political base could be strong. 
Morales went to the Chapare October 2 to meet with his base, 
and we will provide a read-out of that meeting septel. If the 
GOB instead attempts to finesse this conflict and fails, it 
will become vulnerable to further conflicts which it will 
also likely lose. The final option -- negotiating a deal 
which neither comes down too hard nor caves to cocalero 
demands -- is a fine line that may be impossible to walk, 
particularly since keeping the Constituent Assembly on track 
requires the GOB's full attention. 

5. (C) Comment continued: While Morales attempts to walk the 
political highwire, our role is to provide assistance to 
achieve US goals while keeping the GOB out in front. In a 
rare move, the GOB has asked for Embassy logistical 

LA PAZ 00002657 002 OF 002 


assistance to move military units to begin the forceful 
eradication of coca. We'll try to use opportunities that 
present themselves to help the GOB get back onto the right 
track on counternarcotics, including in signing a new LOA on 
future cooperation, and will hold out hope that the goodwill 
stemming from our assistance may create an opening for 
increased dialogue on broader issues, including democracy and 
mil-mil relations. In any case, this event demonstrates that 
enforcing anti-drug laws can require tough decisions that go 
beyond Morales' simplistic rhetoric about coca being 
harmless. End comment. 
GOLDBERG