Bolivia Steps Up Campaign at UN to Legalise Coca Leaf
IPS, 30 April 2011

NEW YORK, USA: Is coca a dangerous drug that should be tightly regulated, or an essential part of Andean indigenous people’s cultural and medicinal heritage? Or perhaps both? In the coming months, UN diplomats will face the thorny issue of how to address the production and use of coca plants in the Andes region of South America. For the past two years, Bolivia has been calling for an amendment to article 49 of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drucs that considers coca production unlawful. Coca leaf-chewing by indigenous communities in the Andes is a centuries-old tradition. The native communities consider it a vital source of energy, nutrition and social unity. But the United States and some of its European allies are opposed to Bolivia’s call to declare coca leaf a non-narcotic crop because the use and abuse of cocaine is pervasive in their countries. Despite opposition, Bolivia has managed to get support from the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement, as well as Japan and Spain, to amend the treaty. Read the article …