31 January, 2011
By Adalid Cabrera Lemuz
“ Bolivia could denounce the 1961 Convention to defend coca chewing ” (President Evo Morales)
La Paz, 31 Jan(ABI). – In order to obtain the respect for the traditional and cultural use of the coca leaf, “Bolivia seeks mechanisms and lines of action that could lead to denounce the UN Single Convention of 1961”, Bolivian president Evo Morales Ayma said on Monday.
In a meeting with the representatives of the diplomatic missions in Bolivia who presented him the annual protocalary respect, Morales spoke about the amendment that was sent to the UN to obtain the depenalisation of the traditional consumption of coca leaves.
This cultural practice has been penalised by the UN and the coca leaf itself was included in the list of controlled drugs of the mentioned Convention.
The Head of State deplored that “due to a lack of information, in some countries people still confuse coca leaves with cocaine, coca producers with drug traffickers and the people who consume coca in its natural state with drug addicts”.
He mentioned the existence of scientifical reports that were carried out even by universities in the United States that established that the coca leaf is an food supplement with medicinal qualities, and not a drug.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister David Choquehuanca launched an appeal to publish the report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the coca leaf in 1995, which establishes that coca has nutritional and medicinal properties.
Choquehuanca said that it is impossible to explain why the WHO has not published this report, so that the global community is informed on the reality of the coca leaf.
In the meeting with the befriended countries’ representatives, the Bolivian president said on Monday that, due to political reasons, some nations refuse to accept this reality and pretend to impose the continuation of penalisation of the coca leaf.
“It is an enormous contradiction that for instance the United States announces that it respects the cultural traditions of Bolivia, but it does not support the amendment for the international depenalisation of coca chewing, due to existence of sufficient evidence that coca does not harm human health”.
He indicated that some nations have have already said that if Bolivia’s amendment is not supported, the Economic and Social Council ( (ECOSOC) of the UN will call for a Global Conference in which the totality of the 1961 Convention will be discussed.
“Member states have the right to denounce the 1961 Convention”, said the Bolivian president.
He made clear that the Bolivian request aims at the depenalisation of coca chewing as this is a cultural and traditional practice of Andean people, living in Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Argentina.
Social organizations in Bolivia have started picket lines awaiting a decision of the UN once the deadline has passed for its members to present their support or objection to the authorisation of coca chewing.
One of these picket lines is organised in front of the US Embassy in La Paz.
It would be enough for one of the 190 member states of the UN to object to the Bolivian amendment for the Convention to remain intact. However, this objection would then have to be followed by the organisation of a conference where the mentioned Convention would have to be discussed in detail.