In 2005, cocalero union leader Evo Morales was elected president of Bolivia.Morales has pursued a combined policy of legalizing coca production in the Chapare and Yungas and eradication of the crop elsewhere.
Coca growers from both the Yungas and the Chapare have advocated for policies of "social control" over coca growing, maintaining a pre-set maximum area of cultivation as an alternative to drug war policies.
The UN Office of Drug Control estimated that 30,900 hectares of coca were planted in Bolivia in 2009, making Bolivia the third largest producer of coca after Colombia (68,000 hectares) and Peru (59,900). In addition, farmers turned to coca for its quick economic return, its light weight, its yield of four crops a year, and the abundance of United States dollars available in the trade, a valuable resource in a hyperinflated economy.
The Bolivian government estimated that coca production had expanded from 1.63 million kilograms of leaves covering 4,100 hectares in 1977 to a minimum of 45 million kilograms over an area of at least 48,000 hectares in 1987.
The economics of eradication were particularly frustrating.
As more coca was destroyed, the local price increased, making it more attractive to other growers.