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ANDEAN COUNTRIES
Bolivia stands up for coca
6/24/2011
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President says international regulations violate cultural rights of indigenous peoples.

Bolivia, the world’s third-largest grower of coca — the raw ingredient in cocaine — has pulled out of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

At President Evo Morales’ request, Bolivian lawmakers on June 23 approved a law to take the country out of the 50-year-old agreement after the Unites Nations did not lift a ban on the chewing of coca leaves, a key part of traditional life for many of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples.

“The 1961 Convention prohibits aculliku [coca leaf chewing],” said Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca during the vote in the lower chamber. “If we don’t denounce this, our brothers and sisters will not be able to exercise this ancestral practice.”

Morales’ government said the UN ban violates the country’s constitution that protects the coca leaf as national patrimony.
Bolivia is a distant third in world coca production behind Colombia and Peru.

According to the United Nations World Drug Report 2011, released June 23, coca cultivation in the Andes fell 6 percent in 2010 compared with the year before.

Colombia’s illicit coca cultivation area fell 15 percent to 62,000 hectares (153,000 acres), while Peruvian coca cultivation area increased 2 percent up to 61,200 hectares (151,164 acres), putting the two countries neck-and-neck. Bolivia did not report figures in time to be included in the report.
—Latinamerica Press.


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