Friday, December 08, 2006
Bolivia: Morales says yes on coca, no on cocaine
Bolivians have been chewing the coca leaf for centuries, and Bolivian president Evo Morales won election in 2005 promising to protect the traditional crop while cutting off the most lucrative use for the plant: cocaine. Since taking office, Morales has destroyed over 50 per cent more cocaine processing facilities than his predecessor, and has jump-started local industries that turn coca leaf into tea, flour, beverages, and toothpaste, among other uses. But protecting the coca farmers while cutting off the cocaine processors hasn't been easy. The U.S. presses him to do more supply eradication. Morales pushes back, demanding that the U.S. do more to reduce its apparently insatiable demand for the drug. The San Diego Tribune has an article that discusses some of the current issues. The Andean Information Network website has useful background reading.