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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 09:10 GMT
The 12-year-old drug smuggler
In August 2005 a 12-year-old girl was sentenced to one year in a juvenile prison for smuggling cocaine, under the Bolivian anti-narcotics law 1008.

Coca mountain
The 12-year-old drug smuggler
Wednesday 17 January 2007
2100 GMT on BBC Two

This World follows her story, both in prison and after her release.

But this was not the first time she had been behind bars.

At the age of six, she spent four years living with her mother - also caught for smuggling cocaine - in San Sebastian women's prison in Cochabamba, where it is normal practice for convicts to take their children to live with them.

In the film, their experiences are illustrated through a family living in prison today.

Marcela Choce (or the "laundry woman", as she is also known), currently lives there with her two children, Pablito and Milli.

A poor Indian woman from the coca-growing Chapare jungle, Marcela was caught smuggling cocaine at a checkpoint.

And in San Sebastian, where nothing is free, she must wash clothes all day long to pay for a small cell for herself and her family.

Coca politics

During filming, Evo Morales took power in Bolivia.

The first indigenous president in Bolivia's history, he is a former trade union leader for coca growers, and a close ally of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

He spent years fighting for the rights of poor coca growers and has always opposed "1008" - the law drafted by the US as part of their "war against drugs."

Many Bolivians see it as an oppressive colonial law, targeting Bolivia's poor.

President Morales has claimed the law is inhumane and has promised to industrialise coca, while maintaining he will also fight cocaine traffic.

This documentary, filmed over seven months, shows to what extent the Bolivian leader has managed to fulfil his promises and change the lives of his people.

It questions law 1008 and asks whether it would be better if the US paid more attention to the problem of cocaine consumption in the US instead.

And it asks whether, even for children as young as 12 years old, many of the country's poor are simply destined to become cocaine smugglers.

Director: Benito Montorio
Editor, This World: Karen O'Connor

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