Bolivia Drops out of UN Drug Pact to Protect Its Coca Chewers

By Shahriari, Sarah | The Christian Science Monitor, July 18, 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Bolivia Drops out of UN Drug Pact to Protect Its Coca Chewers


Shahriari, Sarah, The Christian Science Monitor


Bolivia intends to reapply to the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, but with a reservation that it does not recognize the ban on chewing the coca leaf, a practice with a long national tradition.

The Bolivian government's policy of "Coca Yes, Cocaine No" is unfolding in surprising ways, as the Andean nation is withdrawing from a United Nations convention that bans chewing the coca leaf and simultaneously planning a new deal with the United States and Brazil to monitor coca cultivation.

Bolivia has presented a denunciation to the UN that seals its resignation from the United Nations 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which bans chewing the coca leaf. The denunciation responds to "the need to guarantee respect for the human rights of indigenous peoples, and all who chew coca as a traditional cultural practice," said Bolivia's foreign minister David Choquehuanca of the country's unprecedented resignation from the convention.

The small, thick coca leaf, which can be processed into cocaine, is also an everyday part of Bolivian life. Sodas made using the leaf, packets of coca tea, and salves to treat arthritis can be purchased in shops and supermarkets around the country. Laborers including farmers and miners chew the leaf because it staves off hunger and thirst, and upper-class urban dwellers drink coca-leaf tea to calm upset stomachs. But the coca leaf is more than a pick- me-up and a natural remedy in Bolivia, where it also plays a key role in the religious ceremonies of many of the country's indigenous people, who constitute more than 60 percent of the population.

Bolivia's resignation from the convention becomes effective Jan. 1, 2012. Government officials say the country will apply to rejoin the convention even before the resignation becomes effective with the reservation that it does not recognize language that bans chewing the coca leaf. A month after applying to rejoin Bolivia will again be a party to the convention, but all parties have until the end of 2012 to object to the reservation. If less than one-third of the parties object to Bolivia's reservation regarding chewing the leaf, the reservation is accepted.

The International Narcotics Control Board, which monitors government compliance with drug treaties, released a statement expressing regret at Bolivia's denunciation of the convention. The Control Board encouraged the international community to reject moves by any country to leave the convention and return with reservations, saying this "would undermine the integrity of the global drug control system."

The modern history of coca control efforts in Bolivia is complex. During the 1990s, successive US administrations tried to eradicate coca totally in the Chapare region of Bolivia but accepted growth of almost 30,000 acres in other areas.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Bolivia Drops out of UN Drug Pact to Protect Its Coca Chewers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?