Bolivian President Evo Morales has once again asked the United Nations to recognize the right of people living in the Andes for chewing coca leaves.
Addressing on Monday the 55th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, running on March 12-16, Morales brought various products made of coca, including a marmalade, tea, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
“I call on all countries to correct this historical mistake,” Morales told the participants of the session asking them to exclude coca from the list of prohibited plants.
Bolivia signed an agreement with the United Nations in 1961 that gave the country 25 years to eradicate the growing of coca. Over 20 years since the deadline passed, the country is the third largest grower of coca in the world after Colombia and Peru.
Morales wants the international organization to lift the ban on chewing coca leaves, adding that the issue of legalizing cocaine or other narcotic substances on the basis of coca is out of the question.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president, who came to power in 2006 as a leader of the country’s coca farmers, has repeatedly stated that it was his responsibility as the president to promote the growing of coca as an essential part of Bolivian culture and traditions.
Morales is a strong supporter of the coca farmers and plantations, and has even included “coca’s traditional culture” into the country’s new constitution, which was passed three years ago.