Guardian article explores domestic & international reactions to Bolivia’s new coca law

Bolivia sees coca as a way to perk up its economy – but all everyone else sees is cocaine

Farmers can now grow more of the ‘star product’, but officials underestimated international resistance because coca is so widely accepted as harmless in Bolivia

‘We have a star product that is stuck sleeping in our country.’
‘We have a star product that is stuck sleeping in our country.’ Photograph: Jorge Bernal/AFP/Getty Images
by Linda Farthing in La Paz

Ricardo Hegedus raised his voice so he could be heard over the clanging of tea-packaging machines. “Coca is a marvellous gift of nature, offering a moderate stimulant like coffee – but full of vitamins and minerals,” he said.

Hegedus, the manager of Windsor – Bolivia’s largest coca leaf tea producer – pointed to stacked boxes of teabags and said: “We have dreamt of exporting coca tea for the 26 years I have worked here.” read more

Malia Obama Visit to Bolivia

Malia Obama visited Bolivia last month. Although unknown to the public until recently, the trip was apparently organized with the approval of Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“In spite of significant political differences with the Obama administration, he accepted the visit, understood the significance of the learning experience and respected Malia’s privacy…It’s really an important precedent,” said AIN’s Kathryn Ledebur in a New York Times editorial.

The “Where there be Dragons” program provides U.S. students the opportunity to learn about political, social, and environmental issues in Bolivia. The program offers talks on the water war, globalization, coca control and drug policy. read more