Turning over a new leaf: A subnational analysis of 'Coca yes, Cocaine no' in Bolivia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International pressure to suppress cocaine trafficking sustained decades of harsh drug laws in Bolivia against cocaleros (coca producers), thus affecting coca production for traditional consumption and for manufacturing illicit cocaine. These harsh drug laws caused social unrest in cocalero communities outside traditional coca zones. President Evo Morales, leader of the Movimiento al Socialismo (Movement toward Socialism, MAS) party, implemented 'Coca Yes, Cocaine No' (CYCN), a harm-reduction strategy that authorised 'non-traditional' farmers to cultivate legal coca and self-police production. This article compares CYCN outcomes in Bolivia's traditional and non-traditional coca regions and finds that strong cocalero organisations were vital to CYCN success in non-traditional areas. In contrast, organised resistance in traditional zones restricted CYCN success and added to regime instability in the lead-up to Morales' forced resignation in 2019. Hence, while Morales harnessed state power to change drug policy, he was constrained by the rural grassroots organisations that brought him to power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-600
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Latin American Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 16 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bolivia
  • Coca
  • Cocalero
  • Drug policy
  • Eradication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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