Coca-chewing Bolivians press for end to UN ban
LA PAZ (AFP) – Bolivians chewed coca leaves in demonstrations around the country Wednesday to push for a change in a 1961 UN convention to
remove a ban on a practice that has been part of indigenous cultures here for millennia.
Protesters gathered outside the US embassy in La Paz to chew the leaf as part of a day of demonstrations around the country celebrating the coca plant
and demanding that the UN Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs be amended.
The United States has said it would oppose the Bolivian proposal, calling the 50 year old convention "an important tool in the global struggle against
** This isn't a thread promoting illegal drugs. This is a thread discussing the UN (and the USA) interfering with the culture, heritage, and health
practices that take place in a very poor country in South America.
I fully understand the need to be rid of destructive drugs that enter the United States. BUT ... The UN and the United States are DEAD WRONG in this
case. Coca plants in Boliva are a part of the life style of the country. The plant has medicinal properties that are needed, especially for those
living at high altitudes. The coca plant stimulates blood oxygenation properties. It has vitamins and alkaloids. The altitude of some of the cities
there .. like La Paz .. is exceptionally high and difficult to deal with.
The plant helps with altitude sickness and headaches. Bolivia has cities very high in the mountains (The La Paz airport is the highest in the world
.. More than 2 miles high) without a lot of oxygen and with very difficult breathing. (And Bolivia has cities very low with thick oxygen in a
rainforest atmosphere - Like Santa Cruz)
If the United States REALLY wanted to stop the drug problem in the USA, they'd put up a massive border fence along the Mexican border to stop the drug
runners. That would be a better use of resources then bothering the very poor people of Bolivia who want to grow some plants in their yards, and who
are just looking for relief from altitude sickness or illness, etc.
I fully understand wanting to destroy fields and fields of poppys on the other side of the planet because the drugs from those poppys eventually get
to the USA and cause problems ... I fully understand trying to get those farmers to grow food instead because the population there goes hungry. But
that is a different case then what is happening in Bolivia.
14 years ago I spent a month in Bolivia in Santa Cruz. We landed at the La Paz airport and the pilot had to keep the oxygen running on the airplane
as people got off and got on. The bags of peanuts and potato chips all expanded and looked like they were going to explode from the air pressure
change up there. They stayed puffed up until we took off again and everything got back to normal. We couldn't even breate if we walked to the front
of the airplane because the air got thin from the open cabin door. Later .. my husband had to go to La Paz for 3 days to get paperwork done for the
adoption we were going through. Walking was very difficult for him. Even Bolivians who go to La Paz need oxygen ... the hotels have oxygen available
on room service like you'd get a sandwich on room service here in the USA.
The Coca leaves help with oxygen in the blood supply. There is coca tea in Bolivia that helps with this and with the stomach sickness that comes from
that kind of situation. I had some coca tea while I was there. It didn't help me, but I did try it. (and no .. I didn't get 'high' or get a buzz or
anything like that). Anyways, even the locals need it when they go through the different altitude changes there. La Paz is one of the capitols of
the country ... (yes, it has more than one!!) and lots of gov't work has to be done at that high altitude. Also, the llama farmers have to go up and
down the mountains with their llamas to move them in the pastures.
Anyways .. IMHO the USA and the UN are wrong and the people of Bolivia actually need the coca leaves. If they want to try to control export .. I
don't care. But leave the people of Bolivia alone and let them have their coca tea.
edit on 1/28/2011 by FlyersFan because: fixed