Scribbles from Bolivia No.10 - 01.02.2011

This weekly newsletter is being published by Axel Anlauf collaborator of Somos Sur from November 2010 to February 2011.

International legalisation of chewing coca?

Six month ago Bolivia presented an amendment of the UN Single Convention Narcotic Drugs, to legalize the traditional practice of chewing coca. The treaty from the year 1961 allows the temporal legal usage of coca, but aims to eliminate chewing coca within 25 years after the coming into effect (1964). (Original text see article 49 engl.)

Since Bolivia signed the treaty in 1976 chewing has become formally illegal here in 2001. But a thousand year old, culturally deep rooted practice (not only among those who consider themselves as indigenous) won´t be eliminated within 25 years by a prohibition declared in lacking knowledge, or ignoring the latter; irrespective of the fact that the United Nations often lack mechanisms to push through their treaties.

evococaAfter the fatal economic and egoligical experience of the drug eradication policy enforced by the USA, which put the coca leaves on the same level with cocaine and aimed to destroy the whole agriculture of coca leaves in Bolivia (with the appropriate slogan “Cero Coca”; also see Scribbles 3) an international legalization would be an important step to maintain the culture of Coca, an important comestible and medicine (see below) and to avoid politics like “Cero Coca in the future.

In Bolivia itself an important paradigm shift was enacted under the slogan “Coca Sí! Cocaína No!” with the coming into power of Evo Morales. The coca leave now is constitutionally recognized as protected Andean cultural heritage, but still as the basis to produce cocaine. To achieve this pragmatic decoupling of the traditional leave from its chemical derivate on an international level could secure the continuity of politics like “Coca Sí! Cocaína No!” even under governments which are not that willing to challenge the hegemony of the USA as Evo does.

Blockade of the legalisation amendement

Because after all the Obama Administration seems to remain within the paradigm and the doctrines of the “war against drugs”, since they declared their objection against Bolivia´s amendment (Originaltext engl) on 19th January, because of the “importance of the integrity of the Convention of 1961. Soon Sweden and the United Kingdom follow this example and shortly before the six-month-period to reject the amendment ended yesterday on 31th January, Canada, Austria and Germany joined them. Representatives these countries, too, argued in the discourse of the White House. Before Bolivian diplomats could persuade Egypt, Macedonia and Colombia to withdraw their objections.

cocalapazpeq

Since they could not reach that with regard to the other six countries the amendment probably won´t be accepted, so Bolivia wants to initiate a UN-conference to legalize chewing coca.

In the Andean country last week on 26th January the day of chewing coca (“día de acullico”) was called out to support the amendment. Especially in La Paz thousands of people demonstrated chewing coca in front of the US embassy.

After that the USA launched a declaration saying they would respect indigenous cultures and recognize chewing coca as a tradition, which was dismissed as hypocrisy by Bolivian people.

 

The coca leaf: Comestible and medicine

coca_no_es_blanca350Thus the demonstrators could not change the position of the white house just as little as a study by the World Health Organization from 1995, which could not observe harmful consequences by the consumption of coca. In contrary coca would fulfil positive therapeutic, religious and social functions for the original Andean population.

No matter if people consider themselves as indigenous or not, the Coca-leave with its high amount of Calcium is an important comestible and is valued especially because of its positive effects against tiredness, Hunger and and the altitude sickness “soroche". (more about the nutritive values here on page 2 -germ. or here in spanish) Without it the miners still working under inhumane conditions would probably die even faster (their estimated average expectation of life is at 42 years).

People in more comfortable conditions of living, probably do no value coca that much -for example a middle-aged white moderator learned (believeably) how to chew her first coca leaves during her TV show on the day of chewing coca.

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Even if I am doubtless living a privileged life here I do not despise some coca leaves after working for hours on the computer. And since beside political reasons, disinformation plays an important role within in the blockade of legalizing chewing coca I am closing this newsletter with my personal recommendation for the small green leave.


See you next time!


Axel Anlauf (Contact: Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.)

 

Thus the demonstrators could not change the position of the white house just as little as a study by the World Health Organization from 1995, which could not observe harmful consequences by the consumption of coca. In contrary coca would fulfil positive therapeutic, religious and social functions for the original Andean population.

No matter if people consider themselves as indigenous or not, the Coca-leave with its high amount of Calcium is an important comestible and is valued especially because of its positive effects against tiredness, Hunger and and the altitude sickness “soroche