The government is an advocate for coca growers. The Iranian presence is increasing. And reports from the ground suggest that African extremists are joining the fray.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is also the elected president of the coca producers’ confederation, and Vice President Alvaro García Linera, formerly of the Maoist Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, began building their repressive narco-state when they took office in 2006.
Step one was creating a culture of fear. Scores of intellectuals, technocrats and former government officials were harassed. Many fled.
With the opposition cowed, President Morales has turned Bolivia into an international hub of organized crime and a safe haven for terrorists. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been expelled. United Nations data show that cocaine production is up in Bolivia since 2006 and unconfirmed reports say that Mexican, Russian and Colombian toughs are showing up to get a piece of the action. So are militants looking to raise cash and operate in the Western Hemisphere.
The Tehran connection is no secret. Iran is a nonvoting member of the “Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas” ( ALBA ). Its voting members are Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Read the whole thing.