The Washington Post had an article on Thursday, January 17th describing the United Nation’s ruling on coca leaf cultivation and coca chewing in Bolivia. Coca, an oval-shaped green leaf, is cocaine’s raw material. This is an ancient crop and according to Honorata Diaz, a farmer from El Chapare, “Coca is our culture, our food, our medicine.” Ever since the War Against Drugs started many people such as Diaz have fought to keep the closely monitored cultivation of coca legal in certain parts of Bolivia for local use. Coca and coca chewing were declared illegal under the 1961 United Nations convention on narcotics. Last year, Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, withdrew from the United Nations convention stating that Bolivia would not rejoin until coca chewing was decriminalized. President Evo Morales was recently able to reenter the United Nations convention by persuading some member states to legalize coca. However, fifteen countries objected mostly because they believed that this would lead to an increase in cocaine production, trafficking, and other related crimes.
While we have not yet learned about the country of Bolivia, this article does deal with the topic of agriculture and economy. We discussed these two topics last week when we covered Latin America in 1830. After many countries gained their independence from Spain during this time, their countries were left devastated. There were few jobs available and one was agriculture. Since coca is an ancient crop used for local use and admittedly in drug trafficking, the production of it helped better the economy of Bolivia.
By Andres Schipani; Financial Times; Bogota, Colombia; January 17, 2013