For many years, the epicentre of drug trafficking activities in Bolivia was in an isolated region called Chapare where the coca leaves were grown and processed. Today, a project to train young people to be entrepreneurs is changing the economic face of the region and creating thousands of new jobs for its youth. This report was prepared by ILO TV.

Date issued: 16 November 2005 | Size/duration: 00:01:51 (3.02 MB)
If the video is not displayed, download the free RealPlayerâ„¢

The tropic of Chapare is not only the heart of the Bolivian jungle, it is the epicentre of the drug trade in Latin America. It is also a region scarred by the illegal cultivation of coca and ecological devastation.

This military base houses an exhibition that shows how cocaine is manufactured from start to finish. This activity continues to attract thousands of young men and women who have no alternative source of income.

Coronel Rosalio Alvarez: drug squad Chapare

Sadly a majority of those trapped in this illicit business are young and are therefore an easy prey to drug traffickers.

This was the case with Cecilio Padilla. For over ten years he dedicated himself to producing and trafficking cocaine. Today, with the help of an ILO project where he learned small business skills, he runs a carpentry shop that employs over twenty workers.

Cecilio Padilla: carpenter

I like this job. Thanks to the skills I learned, my whole family and I are surviving.

17,000 young men and women have been trained in various jobs such as information technology, handicrafts, tourism, and engineering. In the last five years, hundreds of small businesses were created like this computing workshop run by Gabriel Arteaga.

Gabriel Arteaga: computer technician

The tropic is being filled with sources and is generating sources of work for those youth who do not have the opportunity to go study.

Giving young people alternatives to find and create decent work for themselves may prove to be the strongest weapon in the fight against drug trafficking.