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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    LA PAZ — Steeped, chewed, or set alight in a ritual: the coca leaf has been used for millennia in the Andes for medicinal and sacred purposes. The rest of the world, however, sees it as the source plant for the illegal narcotic cocaine.

    Bolivia has petitioned the United Nations Economic and Social Council to modify a provision of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which considers the coca leaf a narcotic and calls on countries to eradicate coca leaf chewing.

    The request was filed nearly 18 months ago and will be approved unless another countries lodge an objection to the request before January 30, 2011.

    Bolivia's defense of the coca leaf is so serious that Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca is currently visiting five European countries in an attempt to convince them to refrain from presenting any objections.

    Washington has said it will object, but Bolivia on Tuesday got help from Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez, who offered to act as a mediator at the United Nations "to try to help to find an agreement," a Spanish foreign ministry spokesman said.

    President Evo Morales, who also heads a regional coca growers union, is a fervent advocate of the multiple uses of the coca plant.

    To emphasize his point, Morales even chewed coca leaves in 2009 at a United Nations meeting. "If it's a drug, stop me," he challenged them.

    Since 2009 Bolivia's constitution describes coca as a "cultural heritage, a renewable natural resource" and a key biodiversity element that helps maintain "Bolivian social cohesion."

    The coca leaf (Erythroxylum coca) is part of everyday life for people in the Andean region. An estimated seven million people in a region stretching from southern Colombia through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile and Argentina chew coca leaves, as did their ancestors going back many generations.

    Known for its stimulating and blood oxygenation properties, the little green leaf is loaded with vitamins and 14 alkaloids.

    Chewed coca releases a mild narcotic which serves to combat altitude sickness, hunger and fatigue.

    Luis Cutipa, head of the government office that industrializes coca leaves in Bolivia, says that the United Nations should acknowledge that chewing coca leaves is not a crime, and that the practice has been around for thousands of years.

    Coca leaf use has been traced as far back as the Lake Titicaca-based Tiwanaku empire some 4,000 years ago.

    "The coca leaf is an important part of the original indigenous cultures," said Aymara anthropologist Esteban Ticona.

    "The coca leaf contains more vitamin A than any fruit, and two times more calcium than milk!" added Jorge Hurtado, a coca expert and a La Paz-based doctor.

    However coca is also the source material of cocaine, which is obtained through a process that involves treating vast amounts of leaves with chemicals.

    "Coca yes, cocaine no!" runs a government slogan, showing that Morales wants to commercialize the plant and crack down on the illegal drug trade at the same time.

    Bolivia, the world's third largest producer after Colombia and Peru, devoted some 30,500 hectares (75,370 acres) to the crop in 2008 -- far beyond the 12,000 hectares the state set aside for "legal" coca use and an increase of six percent over the previous year, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Coca is currently being used as an ingredient in Bolivian soft drinks, tea, flour, toothpaste and liquor.

    On Tuesday Bolivia launched a soft drink made from the plant called "Coca Brynco," with the intention of rivaling rival its more famous US cousin Coca Cola.

    The drink already has another coca-based local competitor -- Coca Colla, introduced in 2010.

    The Coca-Cola Company will have little ground to complain about copyright infringement when it comes to the name, as Colla refers to the native inhabitants of the Aymara region of the country.

    By Jose Arturo Cardenas (AFP)
    January 20, 2011



  1. Alfa
    Some pics of Coca Colla and Coca Brinco for your pleasure:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Hopefully these will be available all around the world in the future.
  2. torachi
    U.S. Rejects Indigenous Rights in Favor of Failed War on Drugs

    Last week the United States formally objected to Bolivia’s request to the United Nations to allow the ancestral practice of coca leaf chewing. In doing so, it revealed the corruption, hypocrisy and futility of the global war on drugs, which it clearly values over the rights of indigenous peoples.

    Bolivia’s proposal is modest. It would strike two clauses from the 1961 U.N. Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, which require that coca chewing “be abolished within twenty-five years" after taking effect. The existing system of cocaine prohibition would remain.

    Since Bolivia made its proposal in March 2009, there has been minimal reaction from the international community. The few countries that protested subsequently withdrew their objections; a few others, like Spain, Thailand and most nations of South America, have explicitly supported it; and the minor amendments were set to take effect automatically at month's end.

    And rightly so. The coca leaf never should have been criminalized in the first place. Coca has been used ritually and medicinally for millennia by indigenous cultures of the Andes/Amazon region. Archaeologists in Peru recently discovered fossil remains of chewed coca dating back 8,000 years. Research around the world, including a 1996 study by the World Health Organization (WHO), has concluded that coca has medical value and little potential for abuse. The nutritious leaf, containing only 1 percent of the alkaloid used to make cocaine, is typically chewed or brewed as tea, and often used to minimize the effects of living at very high altitudes. For Bolivia, whose population is almost two-thirds indigenous, coca is part of everyday life.

    But the Single Convention relied on bogus science and racist assumptions when it criminalized coca chewing. Bolivia persuasively argued as much before the international community. NGOs urged countries not to object and instead to support Bolivia in correcting an historical error. Most of the world agreed.

    Except the U.S., which is now strong-arming others to follow its lead. Sweden has succumbed to U.S. pressure and filed its own objection.

    The U.S. move has outraged human rights organizations, especially as it comes on the heels of President Obama's announcement that the U.S. would finally sign onto the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which protects “cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions”.

    This prompted The Economist to write that the U.S. position "smacks of hypocrisy". It is doubly hypocritical because the U.S. recognizes the legitimate cultural rights of its own native populations to use certain psychoactive plants. The U.S. State Department even recommends coca for U.S. travelers visiting Bolivia to avoid altitude sickness, indicating it’s OK for Americans, but not Bolivians, to consume it.

    Experts have aptly called the U.S. posture “anachronistic” and “shameful”. It’s also futile. A half-century after the Convention's framing, coca chewing remains widespread. In spite of the illegal status of the coca leaf, and despite billions of dollars spent on eradication programs, coca cultivation in the Andes has not declined, nor has cocaine production. By contrast, Bolivia allows limited legal cultivation for traditional coca uses, but has not seen an increase in illegal cultivation.

    From the standpoint of diplomacy and drug policy, it would be more productive for the U.S. to withdraw its objection and focus on reducing its own demand for cocaine.

    In the long run, coca could actually bolster alternative development programs for Andean farmers. The ban on coca production and export has led to a thriving illicit cocaine trade, while the market for traditional coca-based products -- which are low in potency, like coca tea, candies, cookies, soaps, toothpaste, and (more recently) soda pop -- has struggled to survive. Lifting the ban on coca could provide indigenous populations with prosperous alternatives to selling their harvest to traffickers who will use it to make cocaine.

    And given how outdated the Convention is in regard to coca, perhaps the rest of it should be opened up for reform, so we can move towards a global drug policy that’s more effective and respects human rights.

  3. 80sbaby
    umm... since when does a country need another countrys permisssion to chew leaves.
    if i was the president of any country, i'd tell america to go fuck themselves.
    and if the americans did any sort of retaliation, i'd leagalize cocaine, and then if the dea or america tried to retaliate again, i'd declare world war, arm the nukes, and see how bad they wanna fight me.
    now grant it, many countries already do this, but not for the reason of drugs.
    Panama's president recently threatened this to the dea to make drugs legal if they didnt help him spy on his political enemies. the dea succumbed because panama would have just used isreal instead anyway. (wikileaks report)

    now grant it, im sure by the time i armed the nukes, the entire world will have already tried to stop this and pressure on the united states as a bully would be exactly on point, and hopefully they dont provoke me as i wouldnt want to make angry decision around an armed nuke! lol! jus jokin guys!
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