From the new TNI blog:
Cocaleros in Bolivia threathen to occupy the installations of the United Nations in the country as well as those of Coca Cola in El Alto in protest against the decision by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to "abolish or prohibit coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea," according to the newspaper La Razón.
The president of the Asociación Departamental de Productores de Coca (Adepcoca), Hernán Justo, said the occupation of UN buildings was because the INCBs "intent to demonise" coca and the "abuse of coca" by Coca Cola. Cocaleros in the Chapare announced a march to protest the INCB recommendations.
Government representatives from Peru and Bolivia also dismissed the INCB report. They called it disrespectful of indigenous traditions. Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde said: "One of the principles of humanitarian law is the respect of traditional customs, recognized by the national constitution," according to Associated Press.
Bolivia’s minister of the Interior, Alfredo Rada, called the report "unilateral and colonialist," and announced that Bolivia would defend the "cultural value" of the coca leaf and the coercion to prohibit traditional consumption before the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) next week.
Bolivia’s vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugo Fernández, said the request of the INCB is the result of "ignorance" and an "archaic, anachronistic and obsolete mentality." He said the tradition of acullicu, the chewing of coca leaves, "will not be eliminated."
"In Bolivia, there will never be a policy of zero coca," said Hilder Sejas, spokesman for the vice ministry of social defense. "To do so would walk over the rights of millions of Bolivians for whom coca is a symbol of our cultural identity."
Last year, President Evo Morales announced in the United Nations General Assembly he would hold a series of meetings with UN officials to elaborate on his government's position on this issue. "This is coca," he said, taking a leaf from his jacket pocket and displaying it to the world leaders who packed the General Assembly hall. "This coca leaf represents Andean culture, it is a coca leaf that represents the environment and the hope of our peoples," Morales said.
The reactions confirm the condemnation by TNI of the INCB yesterday. The INCBs report seems to have backfired. Hopefully, this will finally lead to the decision to unschedule the coca leaf from the 1961 Single Convention. A decision that is long overdue.Tom Blickman, TNI
6 March 2008
for detailed background visit www.ungassondrugs.org