In the end of june 2010 we launched “Plan C” with the purpose of obtaining the legal import of traditional derivates of the coca leaf in Europe.
The second phase of Plan C, – organisation of an international encounter in the European Parliament – is going to be postponed, due to various factors. We think this encounter can be organised in the second half of the year.
There has also been some confusion concerning the position of the Bolivian government and the debate on the request to amend the 1961 Convention in the sense of lifting the ban on coca producing countries to prohibit traditional consumption. 18 countries have presented an objection to this request.
At the end of March during the annual meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, we were informed that the next step in this debate will be taken by the Economic and Social Committee of the UN in New York, in June. But it seems unlikely that there will be a an inmediate solution to this dilemma.
Our conclusion is the following.
In spite of the interest and the capacity among producers, entrepreneurs, experts and parliament members in Bolivia to initiate a solid (inter-)national campaign to promote the marketing of coca leaves and their natural derivates, among others as an alternative strategy to fight against illegal production and trafficking of cocaine, Bolivian government until now has not been able to apply this potential. The government prefers to maintain the conventional strategy with regards to drug trafficking, though this strategy has been seriously affected by corruption.
In January 2011, 18 countries, among them 10 Member States of the European Union, presented an objection against the proposal of Bolivia to amend the Single Convention on Narcoitic Drugs, in the sense of eliminating the obligation to coca producing countries to prohibit its consumption. These countries did not present any argument whatsoever against the coca leaf as such, but only expressed their wish to maintain the integrity of the Single Convention. In other words, in reality they prefer this Convention to be violated rather than to be modified or discussed.
In april 2011 the representatives of the indigenous community of the Nasa in Colombia obtained through a courtcase the end to a campaign of the National Drug Department in which a message was spread saying “Do not cultivate the killer plant”. The Supreme Court established in its verdict that the message in this publicity campaign is inadquate “as it is ignores the difference between the coca leaf and cocaine clorhydrate, or between the possibility to use the plant for illegal purposes and its conception as a sacred plant by the indigenous community”.
Western countries, in which the use of cocaine has surged and extended, refer to the dangerousity of this substance as the reason to prohibit the coca leaf, a basic element of an age-old culture. In fact, this prohibition only serves the interests of the pharmaceutical companies and Coca Cola, which currently possess the monopoly on the legal use of the coca leaf. The indigenous Nasa community have proven that it is not legitimate to accuse coca leaves for the evils that are attributed to cocaine.
In the current geopolotical situation, Andean governments, including the Bolivian, can not protagonise a concrete campaign to challenge the prohibition of coca leaves. Therefore initiatives of civil society are needed. Citizens living in Western countries who consume coca leaves can create legal options for coca leaf producers to sell their coca leaves so they can serve for traditional consumption and therewith avoid that they are used for ither purposes that stigmatise this tradition. .
Therefore, we are planning to establish a new association, the European Association of Coca Leaf Consumers.
The purpose of this association will be to promote the fair trade in Europe of organic coca leaves cultivated in Bolivia.
The association will be established in Belgium, all citizens residing in Europe will be able to adhere to it.
The association will gather the demand of its members, based on a personal consumption of for example 100 grames per month, and will contact Bolivian coca leaf producers so they can send this amount on a monthly basis, through a certified post sending, to the personal adresses.
More news will follow soon.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information, or send this message to others who could be interested in supporting Plan C.
We will keep you informed of the progress.
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