March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales asked the United Nations to recognize traditional uses of the coca leaf, the raw ingredient in cocaine, in a letter addressed today to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“Chewing coca leaves is a thousand-year-old practice of the indigenous communities in the
Morales has encouraged the industrialization and possible exportation of coca products such as teas and liqueurs since taking office in 2006.
The president, an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer, said in the letter that the leaf is harmless and non-addictive, containing only trace amounts of the alkaloid cocaine.
Morales chewed the leaves at a UN conference on drug policy in
The coca policies “established by the UN in 1961 constitute a threat to the rights of indigenous communities,” Morales wrote.
Morales’s popularity has grown amid a surge in Bolivian nationalism that glorifies indigenous culture and demonizes the
The Bolivian leader says the problem of drug trafficking should be stopped by curbing consumption in major markets like the