Bolivia, with crime there is no negotiation or elections

Hugo Marcelo Balderrama

By: Hugo Marcelo Balderrama - 31/03/2024

Guest columnist.
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We are closing the first quarter of 2024, the situation in Bolivia has become unbearable for the majority of the population, except, obviously, for those who live under the dictatorial system. Without dollars, without medicines and without fuel, it is impossible to sustain the story.

For their part, the opponents began a race to position themselves in public opinion as salvation and hope. You see everything, from dinosaurs, Carlos Mesa, the main one, to many imitators of Javier Milei. In normal situations, which imply the validity of democratic conditions, the proliferation of so many party options would be a joy. However, Bolivia is far from being normal, since in a dictatorship elections are nothing more than mere theaters where people vote without choosing.

However, as an aggravating factor, I believe that no one has been able to ask the fundamental question: Who are we facing?

A maxim of strategy says that no plan works if we do not identify the enemy. So, we have to see who that enemy is, since everything is usually reduced to a dispute of ideas or, the so fashionable, cultural battle. But no, it's more complex than that, let's see.

In 1953, Nikita Khrushchev, then president of the USSR, asked his intelligence apparatus: "In what scenario can the Soviet Union militarily defeat the United States?" The answer was: "None."

Obviously, the politburo members became nervous, until someone told them: "Not militarily, but with the money and chaos that mafias and drug traffickers can generate." From that moment on, the Soviets had the mission of inserting themselves into the world of the underworld, gangs and drug trafficking. The Cuban Intelligence Service (G2) was designated as the strategic ally to execute the plan in Latin America and the United States.

Indeed, as the writer Nicolás Márquez very well describes, La Tricontinental, convened in January 1966 by Fidel Castro, was the origin of all the destabilizing processes in the region, among them, the guerrillas and the communist dictatorship of Salvador Allende. Regarding the latter, Márquez relates that from 1970 to 1973, Chile had become the main producer of cocaine in South America. Furthermore, after the fall of the dictator, North American authorities seized cocaine valued at 309 million dollars.

But let's make a leap in time and space to place ourselves in current Bolivia, since the country has gone from being a transit route to a Narco-State. In this regard, the InSight Crime group, journalists and researchers specialized in drug trafficking and transnational crime, states the following:

Bolivia has the largest legal coca leaf industry in the world, and its role in regional drug trafficking has traditionally focused on serving as a transit point for Peruvian cocaine and the export of cocaine base paste. But in recent years seizures of cocaine hydrochloride have increased, despite the fact that the authorities have not improved their capabilities or strategies against organized crime. According to data from the FELCN, the amount seized has increased from 5.8 tons in 2020, to 7.8 in 2021, 10.2 in 2022, and 21.3 in 2023. In 2022, seizures of hydrochloride exceeded for the first time to those of base paste by almost 1% and in 2023 they reached a difference of 59%, indicating a greater presence of this substance in the national territory. In this scenario, the government estimates that 90% of the drug laboratories are located in Chapare, in the department of Cochabamba, where the FELCN carries out most of its operations.

For her part, Gabriela Reyes, criminologist, asserts that:

A State is co-opted by drug trafficking when drug trafficking can act with impunity at all levels, and that is something that is beginning to be seen in Bolivia in a very evident way. Drug trafficking is having power in justice, in politics, it is influencing how certain decisions are made, in maintaining impunity.

So answering the question that opened this note: We are not facing political rivals, but rather groups of thugs who have captured power and installed a dictatorship, and who are willing to exercise the cruelest violence to sustain themselves. It is not a cultural battle or a debate of ideas, but a fight for survival.

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