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World Report

Peruvian Authorities Crack Down on Coca Cultivation

Aired May 28, 2000 - 2:14 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

RALPH WENGE, CNN ANCHOR: Peru desperately needs international help to revive its sagging economy. The minimum wage is less than $120 a month, and that leaves many people struggling to feed their families. To survive, rural farmers often depend on the income they receive from the illegal drug trade. But efforts to eradicate drug smuggling are creating new problems for the farmers.

Finland's YLE traveled to Peru to find out how programs to curb the drug trade are working.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKA MAKELAINEN, YLE (voice-over): Deep into the Peruvian jungle, the cultivation coca keeps farmers alive. Peruvians use coca leaves legally, for chewing and coca tea. But most of the harvest is used illegally, to produce cocaine which is exported to North America, Europe and Asia.

ULPIANO ORTIZ, COCA FARMER (through translator): Of course we are guilty of cultivating coca. But it is really those who process and those who smuggle and use cocaine that should be blamed.

MAKELAINEN: The Peruvian government is determined to reduce coca cultivation. Peru has already cut production down to one-third of what it used to be five years ago.

AGUSTO CABERO, CHIEF, NARCOTICS POLICE (through translator): We arrest the drug traffickers, confiscate the drugs, the weapons and the chemical substances which we find at the site.

IBUCIO MORALES, COCA FARMERS ASSOCIATION (through translator): The police is like AIDS, like a disease. They come to the fields and even to the farmers' homes. They steal our money and have even raped our families.

MAKELAINEN: The problems are increasing, and the income from coca has been falling for two year. Most fafrmers are fed up and would be willing to switch to legal cash crops.

(on camera): Here in the Monzon Valley, coca leaves are said to be the best in Peru. Right now they are worth about $2 a kilo. Cash crops can raise the same or even more, but the challenge is to educate farmers to grow them and help them get their goods to market. (voice-over): Dora Espinoza is ready to plant coffee. A nationwide program for alternative development is helping her to earn legal income. The international community has promised nearly $300 million to fight against drugs in Peru, much of it to support farmers.

DORA ESPINOZA, COCA FARMER (through translator): Some of us have done as instructed, but others done want to give up coca.

MIGUEL ARCAYO, U.N. DRUG CONTROL PROGRAM (through translator): Nevertheless, I believe in 10 years' time, coca production will end here.

MAKELAINEN: For some, it is too late. Cocaine abuse has increased not only abroad but also in Peru. In the seedy town of Dingo Maria (ph), $1 is enough to buy three shots of cocaine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This drug, cocaine, is the devil himself. This is the curse of God. I wouldn't want even my worst enemies to begin using this.

MAKELAINEN: Mika Makelainen, Finnish Television, for CNN WORLD REPORT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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