Bolivia is in the grip of Colombian drug cartels, Colombian foreign affairs minister Maria Angela Holguín confirmed yesterday as she signed a bilateral agreement with Bolivian President Evo Morales.
“We know of the presence of drug cartels in Bolivia,” Holguin told reporters in the Bolivian city of Tiquipaya, where the annual meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) just closed.
“It is a general assumption. I can not say exactly who they are,” she added. The statement of the Colombian politician contradicts Bolivian reports on the issue, which deny the existence of Colombian, Mexican or Brazilian cartels in the country.
Holguín also said that Colombian organised crime displacement is due to the successful policies carried out by President Santos’ administration.
“Our success is harmful to others, because at the same time that progress is made in Colombia, drug trafficking spreads to other countries.”
Holguin signed a bilateral agreement designed to fight organised crime and drug trafficking known as the “two plus two mechanism” with her Bolivian counterpart, David Choquehuanca. It will involve a tighter cooperation between the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Ministries in the two countries.
“This fight is a regional struggle. No country alone can [win] against these [criminal] networks,” she told reporters.
According to UN figures, Bolivia is the third largest producer of cocaine after Peru and Colombia. The latest report from the agency indicates that over 31,000 hectares of coca crops are cultivated in Bolivia, 12,000 of which are intended for chewing, ritual or medical purposes.