[Marxism] Yes to coca, no to cocaine

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 30 07:57:02 MST 2006


LA Times, January 29, 2006  	
THE WORLD
Coca Grower to Fight Drugs
 From Reuters

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 
coca-growing region.

"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 
jungle town.

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 
eradication efforts.

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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