Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coca issues

The question of the coca leaf remains a major issue in Bolivian - and international - politics. While the complexities of this matter are too involved for one blog posting to cover, one of the most basic facts is that while many Bolivians and other Andean peoples consume coca as a basic staple of daily life and a key element of much ritual and religious practice, the leaf itself remains labeled a narcotic by the international community. This is the case even though the leaf itself is not a drug, but only becomes one after it is chemically processed into cocaine. Although Bolivia has lobbied to have this changed, the United Nations refuses to remove coca from its list of narcotic drugs, under pressure from the United States, which has long held the stance that, because "we abuse it, you can't use it."

In response to this refusal, the Bolivian government is now moving to withdraw from the international narcotics convention in protest (thanks to our friends at the Andean Information Network for providing information on the coca question). Anyone interested in Bolivia should follow this ever-developing issue with close attention.

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