Bolivian President Evo Morales is going to the United Nations in an attempt to legalize the leaf in the international community.
Under the slogan “coca is not cocaine”, they are calling for coca-based products, ranging from staples such as tea and bread to cosmetic goods such as shampoo, to be mass-produced and exported from all over South America.
But the plant, because of its close link to cocaine, is listed by the UN as a poisonous species, something which Bolivia hopes to change this week as it takes the case for legalising coca to the UN narcotics and crime agency in Vienna.
He’ll have a tough go of it with that hard-line group, but I wish him luck.
Needles to say, the U.S. is not amused.
If he succeeds in changing the plant’s status by 2008, Washington will not be happy. The US, which spends $1bn a year on its so-called “war on drugs” across South America, says it would be impossible to legalise coca growing in Bolivia without sending cocaine production soaring.
US officials express serious concerns that the new wave of leftist Latin American leaders – from Bolivia’s President Morales to the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez – are acting in the interests of cocaine barons.
Of course, in reality, it’s the United States that acts in the interests of cocaine barons. If it wasn’t for our government, it wouldn’t be so profitable.