Bolivians: Coca-Cola Should Drop 'Coca'

Dan Keane, March 15, 2007

La Paz, Bolivia (AP) -- Always Coca-Cola? Not if Bolivia's coca growers have their way.

The farmers want the word "Coca" dropped by the
U.S. soft drink company, arguing that the potent shrub belongs to the cultural heritage of this Andean nation, where the coca leaf infuses everyday life and is sacred to many.

A commission of coca industry representatives advising an assembly rewriting
Bolivia's constitution passed a resolution Wednesday calling on the Atlanta, Ga.-based company to take "Coca" out of its name and asking the United Nations to decriminalize the leaf.

The resolution demands that "international companies that include in their commercial name the name of coca (example: Coca Cola) refrain from using the name of the sacred leaf in their products."

The commission, which met for three days in Sucre, 255 miles southeast of La Paz, is part of an effort led by President Evo Morales to rehabilitate the image of plant, used in the Andes for millennia but better known internationally as the base ingredient of cocaine.

Coca-Cola released a statement Thursday saying their trademark is "the most valuable and recognized brand in the world" and was protected under Bolivian law.

The statement repeated the company's past denials that Coca-Cola has ever used cocaine as an ingredient -- but was silent on whether the natural coca leaf was used to flavor their flagship soda.

"They need to understand our situation," said David Herrera, a state government supervisor for the coca-rich Chapare region. "They exported coca as a raw material for Coca-Cola, and we can't even freely sell it in

The Bolivian government regulates the sale of coca to prevent use by the drug trade.

In its natural state, the green leaf is only a mild stimulant. In
Bolivia's white-collar offices, coca tea is served instead of coffee, and the country's farmers, miners and longhaul truckers chew the leaf to get through a long work day.

The government wants the U.N. to decriminalize trade in coca-based products to promote its exports.

Morales, a former coca grower, believes an international market for coca-derived products such as tea, flour, liquor, and even toothpaste would draw some of the country's estimated 65,500 acres of coca away from the drug trade.

But the
United States, which funds a Bolivian coca-eradication program, is adamantly opposed to the policy, saying it only encourages more coca production.


Vanessa Di Domenico said...

It will not be easy to do this- we Quakers have had legal struggles with the oatmeal that took our name and our traditional face for over 100 years, and nothing has come of it, even though Quakers started anything that is good in the US. I called them here and told them they better sell CLEAN oatmeal, because it was named for us for being the cleanest -or I would sue them. Interesting, too, that the Quaker company bought Pepsi-cola, and then the compnay changed the name to Pepsi on the NYSE. I do hope that Coca-Cola at least has the guts to say they import 8 tons of coca leaves to the USA for the manufacture of Coca-cola. In Israel, they had to change their 'recipe' because of Kosher laws- which shows that it DOES have coke in it.

Keegan Smith said...

Coca has been a part of Latin American culture since before it was Latin America and long before the drug of the west "Cocaine" was convienintly available across the world.

It is the life of the Potosi silver mine which i visited today, credited with getting workers through the day as a stimulant and stopping the need to use the bathroom and hunger as well as the long-term nutriative and blood purifying benifits against the toxins of the mine.

It´s use must go on. Meanwhile the US and west in general needs to look for another solution to prohibition and crop spraying because 40 years of efforts haven't ended me being offered the dangerous chemical "cocaine" daily as I travel across the world !

Keegan Smith

Anonymous said...

Get real Bolivia. You should work harder on turning around your POS third world country. Instead you are worried about Coca-Cola!!!! Embrace democracy, free trade and capitalism and you might get yourself out of the pit of dispair South America always seems to keep itself in.