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  1. chillinwill
    PRESIDENT Evo Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous leader known for chewing coca leaves at UN meetings, is making a fresh push for the plant, this time in the form of the soft drink "Coca Colla."

    Intended to rival its more famous US cousin, Coca Cola, the fizzy drink is at the centre of a plan coca growers from the Morales stronghold of Chapare in central Bolivia submitted to the government last week to boost coca production.

    Farmers proposed the name Coca Colla in reference to people living in the Andean part of the country.

    A Vice Ministry of Coca and Integral Development official who requested anonymity said the project would be launched in about four months and that the initiative could be either run by the state or a joint partnership with coca growers.

    The official said the drink's packaging would feature a black swoosh and red label similar to the famous Coke insignia.

    The fate of Coca Colla is of particular concern to La Paz, which wants to expand coca cultivation. Tea, flour, toothpaste and liquor are already being produced using a coca base.

    Bolivia, the world's third largest producer after Colombia and Peru, yielded a coca crop of some 30,500 hectares in 2008, an increase of six per cent over the previous year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Last year, Morales, who also heads the coca growers' union in the Chapare region, vowed to increase the expanse used to grow coca bushes by 20,000 hectares in the impoverished Andean country.

    Bolivian law currently approves the use of up to 12,000 hectares to grow coca in the Yungas stretch of forest in the Andes Mountains for traditional uses such as tea, chewing and religious rituals by the Aymara ethnic group.

    Coca leaves have been cultivated in the Andes mountains for 3000 years and are part of the culture and identity of the people there, according to Morales, who has said some 10 million people in the Andes chew "sacred" coca leaves.

    The International Narcotics Control Board has called for years for a ban on coca leaf chewing.

    Bolivia's new constitution, drafted by the ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, says coca is recognised as "cultural heritage, a natural and renewable resource of biodiversity in Bolivia and a factor of social cohesion" and notes that the coca leaf is not a narcotic in its natural state.

    The Morales government threw out US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents in 2008, and the president said he would seek the help of other countries to combat drug trafficking.

    January 10, 2010


  1. platitude
    SWIM Thinks that Evo Morales is doing something that only a few dare to do, he is saying to the world "hey, this plant is part of my culture, and people has being using it for thousands of years, so take your stupid drugs' policy and put it where the sun doesn't shine"
    Probably Coca Colla (which is pronounced Coca "KoShah" - being Collas a Bolivian indigenous tribe)" will taste like hell, like every other fake Coke does, but that is not the point, what it's important here is the change of mentality Evo is trying to achieve, so good for him :)

    PS: would be nice to have some special brownies to eat while drinking coca colla :p
  2. Eratosthenese
    SWIM is reasonably sure that the REAL Coca Cola was made with coca leaves, hence the name. Of course, caffeine was used to replace the original stimulant.
  3. Mr. Mojo Risin
    It was but it was taken out during the early 1900's.

    Glad to hear he kicked out the D.E.A., that guy has some balls:laugh:.

    That'd be cool if they managed to export it. Too bad it probably won't happen. At least not in the states. My kitten would love to get his hands on some real Coca cola type product.
  4. chillinwill
    Coca Colla: It's the Real Thing

    Move over Coca-Cola: here comes Bolivia.

    The Andean nation's indigenous people have long resented the U.S. beverage company for usurping the name of their sacred coca leaf. Now, they are aiming to take back their heritage. Recently, the government of Evo Morales announced that it would support a plan to produce a coca-based soft drink which would rival its fizzy American counterpart.

    It's still unclear whether the new drink will be promoted by a private company, a state enterprise, or some type of joint venture between the two. The new beverage will be called Coca Colla, in reference to age old history: in Bolivia, Quechua, Aymara and other indigenous peoples descended from the Incas are known as Collas.

    In a move that will undoubtedly exasperate Coke, Bolivian officials say Coca Colla will feature a black swoosh and red label similar to the classic Coca-Cola insignia. Coca Colla reportedly has a black color, just like normal Coke, and could be sold on the market as early as April.

    "Coca Cola robbed from us the name of our coca leaf and moreover has cornered the market all over the world," says Julio Salazar, Secretary General of the Bolivian Coca Growers' Federation and Senator from Evo Morales' Movement Towards Socialism Party (known by its Spanish acronym MAS). "It is high time that the true owners of this natural resource benefit by industrializing our coca," he added.

    Bolivians would like to overturn the negative stigma attached to the coca leaf. Morales, an Aymara Indian, says that coca in its natural state does not harm human health, and that scientific research has demonstrated the plant to be "healthy." When drug smugglers change coca into cocaine, Morales adds, they change the plant's chemical composition.

    While the Bolivian president condemns such practices, he also touts the commercial uses of coca leaf. Bolivia's new constitution, drafted by the ruling MAS party, recognizes coca as Bolivia's "cultural heritage, a natural and renewable resource of biodiversity in Bolivia and a factor of social cohesion" and adds that coca leaf is not a narcotic in its natural state.

    Coca leaf, which was domesticated over 4,000 years ago, is usually chewed with a bitter wood-ash paste to bring out the stimulant properties which are mild and similar to caffeine or nicotine. In its pure form, coca serves to ward off hunger and counteracts the effects of high altitude. Many poor peasants earn their livelihoods from cultivation of the leaf, and coca has been used for millennia in cooking, folk remedies and religious ceremonies.

    Indeed, for Andean Indians, the coca leaf is closely tied to the spiritual world. Offerings to Pachamama, the Mother Earth, begin in August to scare away malevolent spirits of the dry season and to encourage a good harvest. Offerings consist of llama foetuses, sweets of various colors, coca leaf and other herbs. The yatiri, or indigenous priest, burns the offerings in a bonfire while muttering prayers to the achachilas, Gods that inhabit the mountains.

    The Restorative Powers of Coca Wine

    Though Coca Colla's launch may have taken Coke's CEO's by surprise, it's certainly not the first time that the coca leaf has been incorporated in commercial drinks. When I was in La Paz researching my recent book Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan), I stopped by the city's coca museum where I learned about Mariani, a coca wine.

    Launched in Europe in 1863, the wine was launched by Corsican chemist and entrepreneur Angelo Mariani. The businessman spawned imitators such as John Styth Pemberton, an Atlanta entrepreneur who launched his own coca wine. Later, the American created a syrup which served as the prototype for Coke.

    After gathering information about the Inca and its love of coca, Mariani took up horticulture and began to grow the sacred Andean leaf in his backyard. Ingeniously, he sent samples of his new wine to famous people world wide in search of endorsements.

    Mariani's outreach paid off: the businessman received glowing testimonials from the likes of Emile Zola, Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill Cody and even U.S. President William McKinley, Queen Victoria and three Popes. In 1885, when Ulysses Grant was in his final death throes and suffering from throat cancer, he drank coca wine. Reportedly, the treatment helped soothe his pain.

    "Vin Mariani is the restorer par excellence," crowed Le Figaro newspaper in 1877. "It is the king of remedies against anemia...It is a tonic which increases the secretion of gastric juices, produces appetite...Vin Mariani has the rare advantage of stimulating both the muscular and cerebral activities."

    "Just how much of a kick did Mariani deliver?" asks Mark Prendergast, author of For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It. "Fortunately," he says "we can hazard a good guess, since a chemist studying various wine cocas reported in 1886 that Vin Mariani contained 0.12 grain cocaine per fluid ounce. The dosage on the wine's label called for a 'claret-glass full' before or after every meal (half a glass for children). Assuming the wineglass to hold six fluid ounces, three daily glasses would amount to a full bottle of 18 ounces, or 2.16 grains of cocaine per day, enough to make someone feel very good indeed."

    From Coca Liquors to Pasta

    Taking up Mariani's lead, Andean nations have apparently carried out their market research and are now doing their utmost to commercialize other types of alcoholic coca beverages. Take for example the Peruvian brewery Cervecería Peruana, which plans to export a coca beer to countries such as China and South Africa. The beer is called Apu, a magic word signifying God, power and richness in the Quechua indigenous language.

    Another Bolivian beverage company recently launched a coca whisky. The drink is called Ajayu, which translates as soul or spirit in the indigenous Aymara language. The whisky packs a punch, with 32% alcoholic content. According to Ajayu's producer, the whisky conserves all the essential qualities of coca, "including more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and as much phosphorus as fish."

    Boosters hope that Ajayu winds up being the emblematic brand of Bolivia, much as tequila became identified with Mexico. Each separate bottle of Ajayu contains 25 grams of coca, and the brand's producers hope to export the drink to Cuba or Venezuela.

    Historically, Mariani pioneered the use of coca leaf, not only in beverages, but also in other products such as cordials and tea. Lozenges meanwhile were marketed toward singers, teachers, and others who sought to ease the throat. Today, Bolivian companies have taken up Mariani's lead and are using coca to make teas, syrups, toothpaste, liqueurs, candy and pastry. In one Italian restaurant in La Paz, diners can even order coca spaghetti made from a mixture of wheat flour and coca leaf.

    Coca Colla and Ethnic Pride

    Though Bolivia's promotion of Coca Colla may cause some to chuckle, the move could contribute to a further deterioration in U.S.-Bolivian relations. For years, Bolivia's indigenous peoples have bristled under the U.S.-fueled drug war which demonized coca leaf. In a snub back at Washington, coca growers from the Chapare region proposed Coca Colla and it is now Evo Morales, himself a former coca farmer from Chapare, who has taken up coca nationalism as a cultural and political rallying cry [for those interested in pursuing this matter further, see my chapter on coca nationalism in my book].

    When speaking before adoring crowds, Morales drapes a garland of coca leaves around his neck and wears a straw hat layered with more coca. What's more, Morales claims that the United States seeks to intervene in Latin American countries by playing up the drug war. Washington's policy, Morales has charged, is merely "a great imperialist instrument for geopolitical control." The Bolivian President argues that the only way to do away with drug trafficking is to cut off demand.

    Raising eyebrows in Washington, Morales recently requested the removal of coca leaf from a list of banned substances under the 1961 U.N. anti-narcotics convention. Specifically, Bolivia wants to modify two subsections of Article 49 of the 1961 U.N. convention on drugs that prohibit chewing of coca leaf. In a theatrical move, Morales held up coca leaf and actually chewed it in front of a U.N. panel in Vienna to demonstrate that it had no ill effects. Hardly amused, the Obama administration announced its opposition to Morales' proposal the very next day.

    Coca Tit-for-Tat

    The Bolivian president's UN diplomacy is not too surprising given that Morales originally came to power in January, 2006 promising to end forced eradication of coca. In fact, the recent scuffle at the UN caps a number of other diplomatic fall outs: in September, 2008 Bolivia expelled U.S. ambassador Phil Goldberg, accusing the diplomat of "conspiracy." Shortly thereafter, Morales suspended official collaboration with the DEA.

    Striking back, the Bush administration suspended Bolivia's participation in a tariff-exemption program for Andean nations, asserting that Morales was not cooperating sufficiently in the war on drugs. Categorically rejecting that assertion, the Bolivian leader cited U.N. statistics demonstrating that his government had done better than Washington allies Colombia and Peru in seizing shipments of cocaine. Indeed, local authorities claim they have confiscated tons of cocaine and destroyed many drug laboratories.

    It's difficult to see a way out of the morass, given that the Obama White House does not seem very interested in reversing the foreign policy course of the earlier Bush years. In fact, Washington says Morales is not doing enough to clamp down on drug smuggling and has continued to exclude Bolivia from the U.S. tariff exemption program.

    "An excluded black man can exclude an Indian man," Morales declared. "The so-called Indians and blacks have historically been the most excluded, the most marginalized," Morales added. "If he wants to exclude us let him continue to exclude us; that doesn't matter to us." In another round of the endless tit-for-tat, Morales recently expelled U.S. diplomat Francisco Martínez, also on charges of conspiracy.

    Increased Cultivation for Coca-Colla?

    Joking aside, the Coca-Colla imbroglio may add yet another twist on the recent diplomatic fall out. Like neighboring Peru, Bolivia permits certain limited cultivation of coca for use in cooking, folk medicine and religious rites. If plans for Coca Colla move forward, however, Bolivia will have to grow more coca, thus putting a further strain on U.S. relations.

    Under Bolivia law, up to 30,000 acres of land may be cultivated with coca, but Morales wants to increase that to nearly 50,000 hectares in an effort to further commercialize the leaf. With the new excess cultivation, Bolivia will be well placed to launch its new Coca Colla. While promoting the beverage is sure to irritate Washington, the move is politically smart for Morales as he may drum up support against an unpopular corporation while helping to bring welcome resources to coca growers.

    "Whether or not the initiative is a success," notes a recent column on the environmental website treehugger, "Bolivia may find international support for standing up to a company that many see as an unfeeling capitalist juggernaut with a product that better serves the environment and livelihoods of the people producing it. No word on how Coca-Colla will taste, but there's already something refreshing about it."

    By Nikolas Kozloff
    March 31, 2010
    Huffington Post
  5. rl1988
    I think the man is a complete genius. Its not often someone stands up for what they believe in against the US government. Good on him.
  6. bostonnew
    Yes, the original Coca-Cola did contain cocaine, as did many other products in the late 19th century before many side effects of the substance were known.

    BUT, actually, caffeine was an addition and not a substitution. Coca-Cola continued, and continue to this day, to add cocaine to their products. They get the coca leaves through Stepan Company who has secured a nice license from the U.S. government allowing them as the only U.S. company to import coca leaves. They import about 100 metric tons per year and Coca-Cola does thus effectively have a global monopoly to sell the addictive cocained products.

    Hence, the "secret formula". Coca-Cola is telling the truth when they say that they've never changed the formula of the original Coca-Cola. They claim, of course, that the coca leaves are now decocained, but as the coca experts on this forum can testify, that's not really a 100% possibility. And why would they want to decocain them completely anyway? Having both the addictive qualities of caffeine and cocaine has made it the world's best-selling soft drink.
  7. LordeV
    SWIM is curious, swiybostonnew. For a fact, US Coca Cola has the original coca flavour, but what about the rest of the world? SWIM must admit he is quite unaware on how Coca Cola does business. Do they export some sort of syrup containing coca extract to the rest of the World that is later assembled in local factories? Do they press for exclusive importation rights to host countries? Or do Coca Cola outside US has no actual, well, coca leaves?
  8. Benga
    repost from the DF coca wiki

    Legal status and politics of coca

    some details on the "food flavouring" legal oddity, in the USA

    also see

    Industrial uses of coca

    this snippet is also related, from the DF wiki's history of coca section

    With the discovery of the extracted cocaine alkaloid, the late 19th and early 20th century saw the explosion of coca cultivation outside of its traditional Andean context, cultivation focusing on cocaine production. It was a coca and cocaine boom, with colonial powers focusing on coca cultivation for intensive cocaine production, trading leaves then transplanting Andean coca specimens in Africa (Cameroon) Asia ( India, Ceylon, Indonesia,Java, Taiwan) and Australia.

    In parallel to the research and discovery of extracted cocaine, apothicary and pharmacist's coca wines and syrups had developped into a new trend first in Europe and then North America, coca enriched patent drinks, commercial derivatives of the medicinal coca wines. This new trend was fueled by the new advertising merchandising and techniques of the post-industrial revolution world, and became extremely popular. The two well known brands, one of which still thrives to this day, were french cocawine "Vin Coca Mariani" and the North American coca syrup "Coca-Cola".
    Coca’s stimulant qualities became a powerful commercial item, first largely publicized by French businessman Mariani, who had launched “Vin Coca Mariani” with great success, by obtaining mediatic endorsement of the 19th century personalities.

    One of Mariani’s American competitors, John Stith Pemberton launched another coca containing drink which finally dominated the market, and exists to this day under the name “Coca-Cola” ( which to this day imports coca leaves as a flavouring agent, but the coca leaves are now decocainised ) . To what extent are the coca leaves fully rid of all the alkaloids present in the leaves is not fully known, as the word “decocainised” implies only that cocaine and cocaine related alkaloids are eliminated. However descriptions of this “decocainisation” process used which can be found ( even though they are of questionable reliability due to the secrecy which surrounds such industrial processes) seems to indicate that all alkaloids might be eliminated. It is also quite unlikely that food and health control organisation would allow a soft drink rich in alkaloids to be sold openly without the cautions associated with “energy drinks” for instance. However, the presence of other coca leaf alkaloids in this soft drink still has to be investigated.
    If all of the 19th century coca preparations did include macerated or distilled coca leaves, the descriptions of the relatively moderate quantities used per liter, and of the contrasting stimulating effects described indicate that these effects were either which exaggerated for advertising reasons or point out that these drinks also included a good quantity of the pure extracted alkaloid, cocaine hydrochloride, a practice not uncommon. This is clearly shown by the amounts of extracted cocaine produced and traded from the begining of the 20th century to the 2nd World War, which highlights the popularity of cocaine in western medecine, as an anesthetic, but also hints at the paramedical uses of cocaine, as a general tonic and "cure all". Cocaine containing preparations abounded ( though they were often marketed as "coca" products)
    Cocaine hydrochloride, with its much more powerful effects, eventually came to replace coca leaves in most medicinal preparations, as it was more financially viable, and the powder could be easily added to many different supports, syrups of course, but also throat lozenges or suppositories…
    In this light, it is very likely that actual "coca wine"
    vin mariani contained extracted cocaine, not just a coca extract, as quite a few ( most) of the commercial "coca wines" and syrups ( Pemberton's....) notably did by the end of the 19th century.
    This is strongly hinted at by the description of the wine's effects ( wine, and alcohol, remains a depressant, and coca, even when concentrated, isn't that strong of a stimulant), and also by data such as the supposed "boosting of Vin Mariani's cocaine contents" to 7mg per fluid ounce in order to compete with north-american production-which hints at extracted cocaine, not coca extracts. If Mariani was indeed known to have imported coca leaves, it is also well known that actual extracted cocaine was used in drinks, and there is little reason to think that Mariani's coca wine was more of a cocaine wine than a coca drink, like many others commercial products of the time.

    As previously mentioned, cocaine is but one of the alkaloids of coca’s pharmacology which also includes Methylecgonine cinnamate, Benzoylecgonine, Truxilline, Hydroxytropacocaine, Tropacocaine, Ecgonine, Cuscohygrine, Dihydrocuscohygrine, Nicotine and Hygrin.
    Yet the cocaine alkaloid, and it hydrochloride, then freebase salt, have taken so much importance that many confuse coca and cocaine.
    Indeed, since the study and extraction of its alkaloids by European scientists in the 19th century, many see coca *only* as a source of cocaine, and thus as the origin of the medical, social and political issues linked with cocaine use.
    It is intersting to note that when coca wines and extracts were part of western medical codexes, neither these drinks nor the tonic extracts were associated with the condition of “cocainism”, vague name given to newly discovered forms of cocaine addiction, which was reserved for cocaine hydrochloride use and users. The somewhat problematic cocaine alkaloid was to overtake and replace coca in western medecine, but also in the minds of the public, leading to a confusion of coca ( the plant, the leaves, the cultural traditions and medicinal application) and cocaine, the extracted alkaloid.
    After its isolation and extraction in 1855, the newly discovered cocaine alkaloid played and still plays a role as an anaesthetic in western medicine ( Bonain solution etc), then cocaine replaced coca leaves as a tonic stimulant in diverse pharmaceutical and para-pharmaceutical preparations, cocaine was experimented with as possible anti-depressant in psychiatry, and cure for opiates addiction, yet all the while also cocaine was quickly gaining fame as a recreational substance. With the recreational uses of cocaine, came the discovery of the substance’s potential health and mental issues, and legislations, followed by international prohibition, and a declared “war on cocaine”, which has focused not only on the problematic substance, cocaine, but also on the coca plant itself, on the leaves, with attempts to eradicate coca cultivation, notably through chemical spraying / fumigation.

    The unilateral mode of thinking which associates coca and cocaine dominated until the late 1980’s, when the coca plant started to play a new role in coca-culture countries. As a counterbalance to the violence and political instability linked to illegal cocaine production and trade, coca use was finally promoted by producers, users and then politicians as a cultural tradition and an asset. Coca has become a symbol of native cultural identity, and of resistance to colonial and post-colonial oppression.
    From the Peruvian government efforts to promote coca and coca products through the official ENACO, Empresa Nacional de la Coca , the Museum of Coca in La Paz, Bolivia, to the speech actions of political leaders such as Evo Morales, voices started explaining that coca is NOT cocaine, and that legal coca use and production are beneficial, should be encouraged. Coca promotion is a possible political alternative, offering a way out of economic, political and military crisis linked to illicit cocaine production in Latin American countries and tremendously lucrative demand for illicit cocaine in other parts of the world. (...)
  9. bostonnew
    The Coca-Cola Company only produces the syrup concentrate for the drink. They sell this to a large number of bottlers around the globe who add water, sweeteners, etc. in local factories (exactly like you guessed) and are responsible for selling the product to the consumer-facing outlets. I don't know exactly where the concentrate is produced in the first place; if it all happens in the U.S., if coca leaves are shipped to other international destinations for concentrate manufacturing, or what.
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