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Bolivia to fight cocaine trade with its own funds

Saturday, July 26th 2008 - 21:00 UTC
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U.S. and EU aid to be modified U.S. and EU aid to be modified

Bolivia, the world's No. 3 cocaine producer, will fund an anti-narcotics unit for the first time next year as it seeks to reduce foreign involvement in fighting trafficking, an official said yesterday.

The Andean country will invest US$16 million in the unit, which now depends heavily on aid from the United States and the European Union. "One of Bolivia's responsibilities is to tackle drug trafficking, with our own ... resources, with our vision, with our hard work," Ilder Cejas, an anti-narcotics advisor working for the Interior Ministry, told reporters. Cejas said the United States â€" which pledged about US$25 million in anti-narcotics aid to Bolivia this year â€" will be allowed to collaborate with funds and advisors, but only within programmes designed by the government. Leftist President Evo Morales, a former coca farmer who took office in 2006, is pursuing a "zero cocaine, but not zero coca" policy focused on battling the drug trade and promoting legitimate coca use.

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