25 January 2011
Encod will lodge a legal complaint against the European governments that will object against the Bolivian proposal to end the ban on coca consumption
Tomorrow, 26 January, the Horizontal Drug Group, formed by EU member states to coordinate drug policies, will decide whether or not to object to the request made by the Bolivian government to eliminate from the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs the obligation to ban the traditional consumption of coca leaves. Last week, the United States government presented such an objection, and it is known that the US have put pressure on EU governments to follow its example.
In the Andean countries, coca leaf consumption is an integrated part of an age-old culture. Having survived for more than 5.000 years the leaf is used until today as a food supplement, a medicine and an element of meetings and celebrations. The coca leaf is present in the daily life of millions of people living along the mountains chain that passes through Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and parts of Venezuela.
It is possible to consume coca tea in the hotels and restaurants, even in the Western embassies in Bolivia. Western tourists or visitors learn to appreciate the coca leaf and many of them take with them some of the coca leaf products that are legally available in Bolivia and Peru. Today these products can even be found in shops of Latinamerican migrants in Europe or bought on Internet.
Throughout the years no serious scientific document has produced any evidence of any negative effect of coca leaf consumption on either physical or mental health. On the contrary, there is a large amount of reports by Andean and international experts, among others of the World Health Organization, proving that this consumption has only beneficial effects on the consumers.
However, according to the Single Convention of 1961, coca leaf consumption should be banned in a period of 25 years (no such requirement has been mentioned in relation with cocaine use). The only legal use that can be made of coca leaves has since been limited to the pharmaceutical companies that apply coca leaves to produce legal cocaine for medicinal purposes, and to Coca Cola, that continues to use the leaves to produce the flavoring agent which gives its special taste to the soft drink. The countries where coca leaves are produced have been excluded from the list of countries that could benefit from these uses.
So while preserving the right to use the coca leaf as a raw material for profitable industries dominated by Western companies, the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs has criminalized traditional consumption. This is one of the most shameful acts that have been committed by the Western world against other civilisations in recent history. To present an objection to the Bolivian proposal would imply a flagrant violation of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, that established the right of indigenous peoples to “maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression.” If the Western world wants to ban this practice, it would have to destroy Andean culture.
Racism is a belief that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
Prohibiting traditional coca leaf consumption is a racist act.
Therefore the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies will initiate the legal procedure to lodge a complaint for racism against any EU government that will tomorrow decide to object against the request of the Bolivian government to modify the Single Convention in this sense.Republish