LA PAZ — The flags of Brazil, Bolivia and the U.S. hung limply behind three empty seats Friday night in the Bolivian Foreign Ministry’s Hall of Honor. The room had been prepared for the public signing of a trilateral agreement establishing a new, cooperative system for monitoring and reducing coca cultivation in Bolivia. Yet, as the announced time of the signing came and went, the room remained unoccupied.
Various explanations have been offered since the abrupt cancellation as to why the signing of the agreement was postponed for the fifth time since March, and the second time in 24 hours.
Officials had said the previous postponements were due to logistical and scheduling problems. Felipe Cáceres, Bolivia’s top drug official, continued this theme Friday evening, saying the signing was postponed because he had to attend the closing ceremonies of the South American Council on the Global Drug Problem.
Vice Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Alurralde, on the other hand, told El Deber the postponement was due to issues with the agreement itself and that the signing would be delayed until he received further orders. “The document is being revised,” he said. “It still is not as we would like it.”
Minister of Government Wilfredo Chávez, who was to sign the agreement for Bolivia, also felt the document had to be rewritten. According to the Associated Press, Chávez said Sunday that the Bolivian government needed clearer control over the counter-narcotics efforts outlined in the agreement.
“The draft of the agreement must be improved so that it is understood that the Bolivian state is at the head of the drug war. It is under the total and absolute control of the Bolivian state, and there can not be a single word or concept that can be misunderstood,” the minster of government said.