It is not clear what Bolivia`s position will be in the debate on legalization and drug policy reform, nor what the outcome of the general discussion will be. Either way, these decisions will increasingly respond to unique national and regional priorities, rather than the dictates of U.S. politics. U.S. policymakers can continue to turn a blind eye to regional development or learn to become an active participant who respects the priorities and perspectives of its neighbors to the south. Bolivia`s current drug law (Law 1008) does not distinguish between street drug traffickers and large drug traffickers, so that regardless of the amount of drugs involved in the cases, the penalties range from 1 year in prison for the production of controlled plants to 25 years for trafficking. And the criminal definition of human trafficking is plagued by serious ambiguities, which are reflected in the composition of Bolivia`s prison population. Recent calls by current and former Latin American leaders for an open and open debate on failed drug war prohibition policies and the possibility of legalization have brought about a profound shift in Latin American public discourse, raising expectations about the possibilities for reform and the general regional rejection of U.S.-supported and funded initiatives. This paradigm shift placed the Morales administration in a conceptual sandwich.
Since 2006, the Bolivian government has been trying to highlight the difference between the coca leaf, which is widely used in the Andes as a mild and legal stimulant, appetite suppressant and cocaine, a powerful narcotic. This initiative intensified with the official end of the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which classifies the coca leaf as dangerous addictive substances along with cocaine, heroin and opium, and their attempt to again comply with the warning that chewing coca and other uses of the leaf should be allowed in Bolivia. The plan`s emphasis on plant eradication and the notable lack of attention to smuggling organizations were noted by its critics at the time. The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia defended the aggressive focus on crops, saying Bolivia was free of large commercial organizations, saying the majority of illegally exported coca had undergone small “family operations.”  Despite this link between drugs and poverty, the Bolivian state and the international community have tried to slow down the phenomenon through repressive policies in which the forced eradication of crops and the prohibition of the illegal trade in coca and its derivatives are often accompanied by systematic violations of civil and human rights. A four-year government eradication campaign that began in 1989 aimed to convert 55 percent of coca land into legal plants.  Coffee and citrus fruits have been proposed as alternative crops to coca, although their return is only a fraction of that of coca.  These crops were also more difficult to sell and transport. [Citation needed] Coca has a much longer shelf life than fruit crops, which require rapid transport. [Citation needed] This claim continues to be rejected by specialists in Bolivian society, who say: “Bolivia is very vulnerable to the influence of international human trafficking organizations and it is very likely that the participation of Bolivian entrepreneurs in the illegal activity has increased.” In the early years, the area of exploitation of coca production decreased. Although it seems that no nation will advocate the full legalization of most illegal drugs, the repeated calls for reform by Guatemalan, Mexican, Colombian and other prominent politicians underscore the frustration of Latin American countries with the dictates of U.S. drug policy, which seems insensitive and does not respond to the dramatic toll demanded by the initiatives of the nations in which they are imposed.
Bolivians share this argument. Repressive policies, including the forced military eradication of coca ordered by the United States as a condition for continued financial support, have led to human rights violations, reprisals, poverty for subsistence farmers, erosion of national sovereignty, and a lack of civilian control over security forces. Although the scale of the violence cannot be compared to that of Colombia or Mexico, the negative effects of this policy from 1988 to 2004 are more than clear. Due to the lack of public rehabilitation infrastructure, Bolivian police are currently releasing people found with a small amount of cocaine or marijuana. Drug Control Law enforcement officials complain that the lack of clarity about what should be considered a personal dose complicates their efforts to distinguish users from drug traffickers and traffickers who receive harsh legal penalties. While prominent Latin American politicians at this weekend`s Summit of the Americas are vehemently calling for a profound reassessment of international drug policy and even a debate on the feasibility of decriminalizing and legalizing drugs, Bolivia`s complex position is often misunderstood. The government of President Evo Morales has announced that it will repeal Law 1008 and replace it with two different laws, one on coca and the other on controlled substances. “The first aims to highlight the importance of the coca leaf for the Bolivian people and to define the limits of its cultivation and legal use. But with the second law, the debates seem to suggest that the ban model will be strengthened without taking into account other social considerations such as the reintegration of prisoners, crime prevention and the specialized treatment of problematic users,” Giacoman concludes. Nevertheless, there are ways to balance efforts to combat drug trafficking and protect citizens` rights, for example by ensuring that the laws themselves avoid collateral damage caused by current policies,” Giacoman also noted. “We want to keep doing it, but with this de facto government, everything has collapsed. They do not communicate or coordinate with us at all.
Other countries such as Japan, France, Britain, Sweden and Russia have also said they tend to oppose the BOLIVIAn UN initiative. Even more surprising, although chewing coca is legal in Peru, its drug czar told international correspondents on March 20: “We are conducting a legal analysis to decide whether or not to support Bolivia`s return to the Vienna Convention. Peru respects the chewing of coca, but we need more evidence of the medicinal properties of coca,” she also wrongly claimed that none of the 200 countries present at the meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna supported Bolivia`s efforts to obtain recognition for coca chewing.