Responding to a remark made by USAID mission director Wayne Nilsestuen about an upcoming “overall reduction” in aid, Bolivia’s vice president Álvaro?García Linera said the U.S. has a “responsibility” to fight against drug trafficking in the country, and should therefore maintain current levels of aid.

According to the Bolivian newspaper La Razón, USAID allocated $50 million to Bolivia this year alone, which was used to fund alternative development projects and efforts to crack down on organized crime. Although Nilsestuen announced that any future reductions in anti-narcotics aid would be the result of the recession, the vice president said any reduction would be a failure of the United States’ obligation as a consumer country. “The fight against drug trafficking is a shared responsibility,” said García, “but the burden lies primarily on consumer countries,  so the aid should not decrease. It is their obligation and responsibility.”

The issue of drug trafficking is particularly sensitive to the Bolivian government, thanks to recent U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks in which American officials express deep criticism of President Morales’ handling of coca production in the country.

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