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Congressman Wilson Quispe Mamani, representative of Free Peru for the Puno region, presented last Monday 25 a bill that seeks to regulate the cultivation, production, commercialization and industrialization of the Coca leaf in the country. However, this initiative of the ruling party contains serious dangers warned by experts consulted by El Comercio.
In the first place, the project proposes in its article 5 that the 13 basins and micro-basins that produce Coca leaf, among them, those of the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers (Vraem); and of San Gaban, in the Puno region. From October 12, producers cocaleros from this basin in the province of Carabaya participated in an indefinite strike against the eradication of coca leaf crops by the Special Project for the Control and Reduction of Coca Cultivation in Alto Huallaga (Corah). On Friday 22 it was announced that the measure would be lifted.
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Congressman Quispe Mamani’s project also proposes that licit crops be considered “For commercialization and industrialization purposes” those included in the 13 coca-growing basins “Duly registered”. In addition, that the areas involved in substitution and alternative development programs are subject to a “Voluntary and concerted reduction”, under the consent of the producer. The registration of producers would fall to the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (Midagri), the National Coca Company (Enaco), regional and local governments. In their hands would be the update of the register of producers of Coca leaf, with the participation of cocalero organizations.
The initiative was signed by Congressmen Álex Flores, Waldemar Cerrón, Guido Bellido, María Taipe, Jaime Quito and Alfredo Pariona. They are all members of the ruling bloc. Before being Minister of the Interior, Luis Barranzuela presented himself as an advisor to cocaleros.
Read the bill here:
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The coca-growing basins whose production is sought to be legalized include articulated crops for illicit purposes. In the Quispe bill, it is argued that the initiative responds to the “need” to formalize and benefit more than 250,000 producers of Coca leaf. But this would not be related to the current indicators.
“It is useless and dangerous because it would be legalizing all coca leaf production and, as has been demonstrated in studies by Devida, we are more than covered for legal production”said Ricardo Valdés, former Vice Minister of Internal Order.
From a technical point of view, Valdés noted that there is supply for the demand for Coca leaf for traditional and industrialization purposes. Currently, there are 22 thousand hectares of coca leaf registered for legal purposes (Enaco, 2019). “Why would it have to legalize 250,000 coca leaf producers whose destination is basically illegal?”, he asserted.
For Valdés, the project would also have a political motivation, since the governing party could thus expand its social base with the 250 thousand producers of Coca leaf. “Political reading is also important. If this proceeds, they side with organized crime, with public health problems, with what is morally improper. That would put the government and the Free Peru in a situation of immorality “, ended.
Meanwhile, former Interior Minister Rubén Vargas said that there are three direct effects that would be triggered if the project is approved. First, that it would be intended to legalize 100% of the production of Coca leaf knowing that a large percentage ends up turned into cocaine. “The registration is a serious problem for the fight against drugs because it aims to legalize 90% of the production of coca that goes to drug trafficking “, said. He added that a social conflict could arise between illegal coca growers and native communities. Finally, he warned that there could be abandonment of protected natural areas due to illegal crops within them.
Alfonso Zavaleta, Cedro’s scientific advisor, said that the initiative’s problem is that, except for some areas of the Cusco region, “All the others correspond to the cultivation whose purpose is drug trafficking”. Regarding the proposed registration, he noted that this would be a form of “Cover up and make viable that it can be sold without control to drug trafficking”. He also questioned the intention to include the coca leaf in a list of food products. “The Coca leaf it has no nutritional purposes. On that side, there is no justification. Neither does it correspond to a native breeding nor is it a wild plant, but rather cultivated in enormous extensions “. A large part of these crops, as the experts noted, ends up being an input for drug trafficking.
Pedro Yaranga, an expert on drug trafficking, agreed that this project would favor these illicit activities. Instead, he proposed that the strengthening of the Enaco be considered. “What they want is to make the illegal ones legal. There are no justifications. […] The only objective they have is to paralyze eradication [de hoja de coca]”, he concluded.
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The promoter of the bill
The legislator Wilson Quispe said last October 13, in an activity in San Román (Puno), that he does not agree and will not allow the eradication of the Coca leaf. “The campaign promise has to be fulfilled. The eradication of the Coca leaf, we have to defend it frontally “, he expressed. At this conference he also announced the presentation of the bill in question.
These statements were provided a day after the start of the coca growers strike in the southern region. Additionally, on October 12, he requested meetings with the Minister of the Interior, Luis Barranzuela, and the president of the Council of Ministers, Mirtha Vásquez, to discuss actions to eradicate the Coca leaf.
This meeting could take place between the mayors of San Gabán and Carabaya. Coca growers leaders also arrived in Lima. Through the congressman, they obtained the aforementioned meeting with Minister Barranzuela on October 13, starting at 3 in the afternoon. In that appointment, which did not last long, no agreement was reached. It was filed as a demand to set a date to suspend the eradication of the Coca leaf, but the minister -who entered at the end- indicated that it should go through a legal advisory. The installation of a technical table of the Coca leaf.
On Thursday, October 21, Quispe entered a next meeting in which it was agreed to formalize the installation of a technical table on the Coca leaf. Representatives of the Carabaya coca-growing basin, mayors and authorities of the central government participated in that meeting.
In August, he wrote on his social networks, after a meeting with peasant rounds and the Puerto Manoa Town Center (San Gabán), that he would be heading “The project of revaluation, production, circulation, transportation, commercialization, consumption, research, industrialization and promotion of the coca leaf and its legalization”. In September of this year, the government legislator announced on his social networks that one of his objectives was to present a bill for the cultivation of coca leaf.