Morales Calls for Lift on Coca Ban

Morales’ latest comments in the United Nations convention on narcotics illustrate the ongoing struggle to control drug trafficking in the hemisphere. He called the outlawing of the international trade in coca leaves an ‘historical error’ and emphasised the important role that it plays in Bolivian (and Andean) culture. His comments highlighted yet again the fact that Latin American countries still see the drug problem as stemming from high demand in the US, while the US government continues to insist that it is a problem of abundant supply from Latin America. More flexility is needed on both sides if progress is to be made. The US must accept that cocaine consumption in Andean countries is relatively low, and the main use of coca leaves in the domestic market is for medicinal purposes, while Bolivia especially must do more to regulate the industry that Morales has worked hard to normalise. Only with mutual understanding, and a heterogeneous approach, can the problem be tackled effectively.

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