[Marxism] Yes to coca, no to cocaine
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 30 07:57:02 MST 2006
LA Times, January 29, 2006
Coca Grower to Fight Drugs
SHINAHOTA, Bolivia President Evo Morales on Saturday appointed a coca
leaf grower to lead the country's fight against drugs.
Morales announced the appointment of Felipe Caceres, a co-founder of his
Movement Toward Socialism party, during a trip to the heart of Bolivia's
"A coca farmer is going to be in charge of the fight against drugs,"
Morales said, wearing a hat of woven coca leaves. He drew loud applause
from hundreds of people, many of them coca farmers, gathered in this lush
Morales, who as a candidate pledged to roll back U.S. efforts to curb coca
growing in his country, the world's third-biggest cocaine producer, took
office a week ago.
The previous head of Bolivia's anti-drug efforts worked closely with
Washington, which spends about $150 million a year on coca-eradication
programs in the South American country.
Morales first rose to political prominence as the leader of the country's
coca farmers, and led sometimes violent protests against U.S.-backed
He said the struggle to preserve the legal growing of the plant was deeply
tied to his political party, known popularly by its initials, MAS. "MAS was
born from the coca leaf," he said. "We will never be separated."
The cultivation and sale of small amounts of coca is legal in Bolivia, with
the limit set at 30,000 acres. But the United States contends that larger
crops of the plant, which is used to make cocaine, eventually end up on
illegal drug markets.
The plant is prized by Bolivian indigenous farmers for traditional
medicinal uses and herbal teas. Indians in Bolivia chew coca, a mild
stimulant, to ward off hunger and altitude sickness. Morales has said he
wants to increase production of the leaf for use in medicines, toothpaste
and soft drinks.
Morales, insisting that he is opposed to drug trafficking, has said he is
seeking a drug-fighting program that would say, "No to zero coca, but yes
to zero cocaine."
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