Showing posts with label Bolivia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bolivia. Show all posts

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Things You Didn't Know about Coca?

The coca leaf, discovered 3000 years ago by the Incas, is still cause for both pride and controversy.
Homemade coca soap - Natural antibacterial
Maeva Gonzalez
Eduardo Lopez Zavala, the director of the movie Inal Mama understands it as a symbol of Bolivia. But coca is also part of a world market that has transformed the traditional use of the coca leaf into a sparkling drug experience that attracts ever-growing numbers, especially of young people. However, there is more than cocaine to the coca leaf: the consumption of coca tea is an ancient and harmless practice, and while nowadays it is drugs that make the press, in fact the market for the coca leaf in Bolivia is expanding to alternative uses, principally in pharmacology and cosmetics.
In the early 1900s, the United States, first users in the world, decided to eradicate coca production. This was followed by a series of international conferences aimed at prohibiting the coca culture. In 1951, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified coca amongst the most highly addictive products, and ten years later, an international convention definitely prohibited its production. Though Bolivia and Peru benefited from a 25-year old respite, coca production has tripled since. The heritage left by this situation is a prolific narco-trafficking trade that crosses over the Bolivian frontiers to please an ever growing European and American clientele, while cutting its prices.
Evo Morales announced in 2006 that he would seek scientific proof of the necessity of legal coca plants for the economical well-being of the country, and since then some steps have been taken to control the illegal trade. Back in 2009, the federal police of Bolivia (led by Bolivia’s National Planning Director General Wilge Obleas Espinoza) and Brazil decided to work together against crime involving drug trafficking. This action was followed the same year by a meeting between Evo Morales and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris where they discussed the sale of civilian and military helicopters, respectively named Super Puma and Cougar, to help the fight against drug smugglers. The meeting spoke volumes among the international community and a few months later, Bolivian counter-narcotics forces, known as the FELCN, made their biggest drug bust in ten years. The anti-drug police dismantled a cocaine processing property in Santa Cruz province: a house that was being used as a drug factory.
Psychiatrist Mabel Romero Maury, who has worked with doctors treating drug addicts, informed me that the government was indeed focused on fighting narco trafficking but that not enough effort was made to educate people in Bolivia to prevent addiction. Nevertheless, the work of Dr Jorge Hurtado, a coca specialist and founder of the coca museum in La Paz, to create a coca paste, has helped some patients to recover from extreme addictive behavior. When the government asked for the help of several doctors and coca specialists to discuss the future of the coca leaf, it appeared, said Dr. Mabel Romero Maury, that they had a lot of information available. Unfortunately there was less flexibility to apply these ideas in the country.
Although Bolivia took effective action against the illicit cocaine trade and did adhere to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the government is engaged in talks with the US on Law 1008 (the ban of coca production), and is not quite ready yet to kill the “goose that lays the golden eggs”, to quote a famous Aesop’s fable.
Meanwhile coca’s essential and diverse potential is beginning to become evident through its uses in the alternative market. Many Bolivians are reviving coca’s original uses: for cooking, folk medicine (the unadulterated coca is well-known to be a mild stimulant which counteracts the effects of altitude sickness) and Andean religious rites.
The coca leaf is a major part of several aspects of Bolivian society: social, political, chemical, legal and criminal among others. Dr Jorge Hurtado explained that coca has properties similar to anesthetics and is often criticized for wrong reasons. According to him, while the coca leaf has been classified as dangerous and unhealthy, there are no doctors or medical studies that have proved this assertion. One of the most striking examples he gave during our meeting was that forty years ago, when the government tried to stop coca consumption, it appeared that work in mines was decreasing. The explanation is that miners need coca to work, as it helps the body and the mind to stay alert. To refuse them their usual coca chewing meant they had no energy for this hard work. Consequently mines’ production dropped. The reintroduction of the coca leaf into the miners’ daily work maintained the production at a high level without making the miners coca leaf addicts.
In fact “the coca leaf has more vitamins than quinoa, for example, and around 25% more calcium than milk”, added Hurtado. The leaf is a common food supplement as are vitamins pills in Europe. – there is no proof that chewing coca leaf and Bolivia has more alcoholics than cocaine addicts - a relative comparison between leaf and drug might be the relationship of grapes to wine. The coca leaf may contain the essential ingredient for cocaine production, but it does not become harmful until it is transformed by man.
In 1949 procaine was discovered, a similar substance to cocaine, this chemical was found to have an effect akin to the “Fountain of Youth”. After administering procaine to patients, especially older ones, researchers noted amelioration in muscles and motion. Ana Aslan played a role in the initial discovery of the anti-aging property of procaine. Coca was then used in various ways to enhance people’s physical capabilities. Unlike morphine it does not cause any kind of addiction.
Of course, the coca leaf also relieves stomach pain. In Europe I have been used to drinking coffee after eating, which is in fact the worst thing we could do to our digestion. Coffee opens a so-called “sphincter” in the stomach, which regulates the passages between the top and the bottom of the digestive system. Coca, on the other hand, is beneficial to the digestion process. “I could give you more and more uses for coca leaf but this is endless and still very controversial even if studies proved us right”, finished Dr Hurtado.
In cosmetics, various brands have introduced coca to shampoos, body lotions or hair conditioners. Tourists will probably still be checked at the airport if they try to bring one home. This happened to Bryce, 22, a NGO worker in La Paz: “My friend forgot she had coca shampoo in her bag and as she went through security the dogs began to look nervous. Fortunately we didn't get into trouble but I wouldn't recommend the experience.” Coca also appears in some toothpaste, as it prevents some gum diseases.
As my research through the history of coca comes to an end, I feel I have discovered that the coca leaf is far more than just a tradition here in Bolivia. It is a growing market linked to different aspects of the Bolivian economy: the people, the laboratories, the cosmetics, the medicine and more. Despite crackdowns on illegal parts of this sector in the past, the coca industry in Bolivia is still very much alive and given a few years, ready to expand.
Republished from:
http://www.bolivianexpress.org/blog/posts/things-you-didn-t-know-about-coca

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Secret of the Coca Cola Recipe and the Coca Leaf

Coca Cola, Evo Morales, and what Our Governments Do Not Want Us to Know about the Coca Leaf

12 March, 2013
by David Jeffrey Wright


Today in Bolivia, March 12th it is National Coca Leaf Awareness Day and in the rest of the world it is the 119th Anniversary of the First Bottle of Coca-Cola.

Most of us have heard something about the history of Coca-Cola and know that the potion was first presented as a medicinal tonic invented by John Pemberton in 1886. We also know his beverage was quickly discovered by businessmen of the time and the Coca Cola Company was born. Shortly after the corporation that we know today was formed in 1888, the inventor of Coca-Cola, John Pemberton died.

In reality the Coca-Cola that people drink today barely resembles the original concoction created by its maker in the 19th Century, who originally produced coca wine until the Victorian temperance era. When Pemberton created Coca Cola he was actually looking to create a non-alcoholic feel good drink that produced noticeable benefit. We know today from all the claims and well-documented evidence that the drink the invented that day became well-known as nerve tonic for anxious ladies, it became a cure for a great number of afflictions, helped with common disease conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and it served as a panacea to everyone who was not sick that drank it.

For the 15 years following Pemberton's death, the owners of the Coca Cola Company took the drink to market making it exclusively available at soda fountains and ice cream parlors that were associated with/or a part of neighborhood pharmacies of the era. Those who drank Coca-Cola were energized, alleviated of joint pains, then were sent off singing and feeling great. Driven by the well earned popularity, effectiveness, and demand of their product as a cure-all they put their plans in action to capitalize on their investment, so on March 12, 1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi when they began bottling the drink commercially for the very first time.

In later years it's often said that they removed the cocaine from Coca-Cola. However this is simply not the case, what we do know is, that around 1903 Coca-Cola stopped using fresh coca leaves and  began using the spent coca leaves leftover after the alkaloids had been extracted by pharmaceutical firms when cocaine sulfate and hydro-chloride were widely used as an anesthetics.

Today they still use the spent or "de-cocainized leaves" which are in essence a waste product of the controlled and regulated coca laboratories in the US, and thanks to modern technology they manage to squeeze enough out of the spent leaves to create an extract that Coca-Cola uses today as a flavoring and a part of their so-called secret formula.

There is no documentation that the corporation was looking to remove the cocaine specifically from their beverage at this particular moment in history, because the pure crystalline form was available in most pharmacies for many years afterwards until it was discovered that many people began abusing it around 1910. In 1914 the pure cocaine powder came to require a prescription or doctor's order.

What has become evident while doing research is that the demand for cocaine increased among the pharmaceutical firms during the early 1900's and coca leaves from Peru and Bolivia became very hard to acquire especially for the Coca Cola Company. In order to stay as true to their recipe as possible, they opted for and used the coca leaf residuals of the pharmaceutical firms which appeared was their only option nine years after the first bottle was produced.

Since 1903 the production of soft drinks has become a trillion dollar business, the Coca-Cola Company did the right things at the right time to become a pioneer and leader capitalizing on the opportunities created by the demand they created, now today they control around 40% of all the containerized beverages in the world including juice, tea, soft drinks, and even bottled water.

The first bottle on the top left is the syrup mix that was distributed
to fountains and the second bottle to the right is the Vicksburg, MS bottle
The revenue stream generated and created by Coca-Cola products is greater than that of most civilized nations, the company only directly employs just under 100,000 top level employees, but across the globe there are literally millions of others that base their livelihoods on their products when you include all their distributors, bottlers, and independent vendors that are all individually owned.

The Secret Formula that Changed the World


The secrets of a successful business are often shrouded in mystery and the idea of the secret itself is even more intriguing. This is the case of the Coca-Cola Company, we already know that we are not drinking the same naturally produced Coca-Cola recipe invented by John Pemberton or even really a facsimile thereof, the formula today has new chemicals that were not even invented until the mid 20th Century and on top of it all, the corporate hand of Coca Cola a replaced the fresh leaves with spent washed coca leaves probably to cut costs or out of need to use coca as an ingredient. The original formula had clear medical benefits and was marketed as a medicinal feel good drink.

Now this past January 2013, Morales succeeded in legalizing the coca leaf from the international point of view of the United Nations for use inside Bolivia. Further it is completely legal for anyone to go there and use it, just like going to Amsterdam to smoke marijuana and drink coca tea in a way, but legally, in Amsterdam its actually illegal, yet tolerated, but they import coca leaves and tolerate their new coca liquor (Agwa) pretty well, however they objected to Bolivia along with the US and 13 other countries to making coca legal in Bolivia two months ago in January. (Sounds like there may be a Dutch Coca Leaf Conspiracy to unravel soon.) 

The result today is a soft drink that has added artificial coloring, caffeine, caramel, phosphoric acid, sugar, vanilla, other spices and of course spent coca leaves, it even still contains trace amounts of cocaine and related alkaloids. In chemical analyses on Coca-Cola produced after 1929 only trace amounts less than 1 mg of cocaine per bottle compared to the whopping 7-9 mg per bottle in 1900.

According to Wikipedia, "The Coca-Cola formula is The Coca-Cola Company's secret recipe for Coca-Cola syrup that bottlers combine with carbonated water to create "Coca-Cola" soft drinks. As a publicity, marketing, and intellectual property protection strategy started by Robert W. Woodruff, the company presents the formula as a closely held trade secret known only to a few employees."
I have no doubt that Pemberton's secret recipe for Coca Cola is probably locked away in a vault somewhere. The biggest fraud though is that billions of people around the planet think that the soft drink "Coca-Cola Original" is made from that secret recipe. The only secret then is that the real secret recipe is not on the market today.

Maybe if we could drink Pemberton's original recipe Coca-Cola we would know more.

Top scientists, nutritionists, United Nations experts and medical doctors have all said that the natural coca leaf is one of the most nutritional foods known to man and there are no negative effects for those who consume it. In 1975 the University of Harvard did a study to analyze the coca leaf and conferred with other nutritional evidence. There are 14 alkaloids and over 32 vitamins and minerals, the leaf contains non-nitrogen proteins, flavonoids, and other beneficial properties.
  

It is a Violation of Human Rights to Stop the Bolivians from Growing Coca


Coca leaves can be found growing wild and naturally in the Western Amazon and in the lush forested foothills of the Andes from Venezuela to Chile and even parts of Argentina. Indigenous Americans have been using coca leaves at least 6000 years based on archaeological evidence of their use as food and medicine throughout this region. 

Indigenous people long before the Inca, used coca in rituals, as medicine, and as food. The coca leaf is used today the very similarly by these same traditional peoples.

In 1961 however the United Nations created a law called the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which called for the eradication of the coca plant in Peru and Bolivia by 2011, as well as other places it is cultivated illicitly in sequential global narcotics accords, sometimes referred to colloquially as the Vienna Convention, which were approved in 1971 and 1988, that 188 member nations have ratified.

What the United Nations did not consider in their decision was the importance of the coca leaf among the Andean people not as an income source for the production of illicit cocaine but as the traditional food and medicine that they have been using for 6000 years. Eradication of the coca plant or the prohibition of the free and open use of the coca leaf by the indigenous people would be a direct violation of their human rights to preserve their identity and live within their traditional culture and belief systems.

In 2006 the first ever indigenous leader was raised to the office of a presidency, in Bolivia, Evo Morales was elected by a landslide victory with great opposition presented by the United States and other European governments and media. In 2007 he promoted the use of the coca leaf as his ancestors and brothers use it and have used it for centuries.

The Secrets between the World Government, the Coca Cola Company and the Public


The secrets between the government and the Coca-Cola Company involves money, taxes, jobs, commerce and control over the world's coca resources. Their secrets are mass marketing, advertising, more advertising and the romance developed with the public when they began. There is certainly no secret in the bottle.

Evo Morales, Indigenous Americans and scientists are all aware that the coca leaf in its natural form is powerful sacred natural medicine, they know the big secret (coca is good for you) and they use it naturally as tea, a natural snack and as a food supplement and they have been doing so for 6000 years.

As Pemberton discovered the leaf when brewed into a tea or macerated into a wine or liquor that maintained good health, alleviated addictions, cured numerous sicknesses, and stimulated lucidity of mental faculties among other things.

It would be a disaster for the Coca-Cola and the individual interests of government economies that the company generates revenues, if the people of the world were to discover that the real natural coca leaf REALLY IS as nutritional as the Harvard Study of 1975 suggests and that it really is a cure all and panacea for those who use it. What would they do with all the rich Bolivians and how would the corruption continue if coca were used internationally? 

If it were legalized and distributed internationally as food and medicine around the world people would drink the tea and chew the leaves, it is ridiculous to think that individuals would go through the trouble of building a laboratory and purchasing the chemicals to make cocaine from coca leaf or thousands of coca tea bags.  Coca leaves treated as food would drive the cost up too high to produce cheap street cocaine, after the chemicals the cost would be near $3,000 per gram.

Based on my research I discovered that the Coca Cola Company was responsible in part for the prohibition of the coca leaf and the establishment of laws relative to its penalization in other countries dating back to 1939. I am sure there is more to discover, but meanwhile I encourage everyone who reads my article to keep an open mind about the natural coca leaf, respect others who use it traditionally and those who want to come to Bolivia or any of the other countries where it is legal on a local basis, like in Venezuela, Northern Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia or Peru.

If people knew about natural herbal coca and used it like Pemberton did then the Coca Cola Company would be no more, because everyone would prepare beverages, teas and candies using coca and would have no need for any watered down or less effective beverages, they would want the "Real Thing."

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Coca Leaves are Now Legal in Bolivia


LA PAZ, Bolivia — Evo Morales' global crusade to decriminalize the coca leaf, launched in 2006 after the coca growers' union leader was first elected president of Bolivia, has finally attained a partial, if largely, symbolic victory.
A year ago, Bolivia temporarily withdrew from the 1961 U.N. convention on narcotic drugs because it classifies coca leaf, the raw material of cocaine, as an illicit drug.
It has now rejoined, with one important caveat: The centuries-old Andean practice of chewing or otherwise ingesting coca leaves, a mild stimulant in its natural form, will now be universally recognized as legal within Bolivia.
To press for coca's decriminalization, Bolivia's first indigenous president has chewed it at international forums, bestowed coca-leaf art on such figures as former U.S. Secretary of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and promoted the leaf as a "nutritional" ingredient fit for school lunches.
Bolivia's condition for rejoining the convention met resistance from 15 countries, including the United States and the rest of the G8 group of industrial nations, according to U.N. spokeswoman Arancha Hinojal. But the objections received by the United Nations ahead of Thursday's midnight deadline fell far short.
In order to block Bolivia's return to the convention a full third of its signatories – or 63 – needed to object.
Among nations objecting were Germany, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, Britain, Japan, The Netherlands and Portugal. Notably, neither Peru nor Colombia, the world's two other cocaine-producing nations, filed objections. Nor did any other South American nation.
The White House has, since 2008, maintained that Bolivia has failed to meet its international counternarcotics obligations.
"We oppose Bolivia's reservation and continue to believe it will lead to a greater supply of cocaine and increased cocaine trafficking and related crime," said a senior U.S. State Department official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name.
"While we recognize Bolivia's capacity and willingness to undertake some successful counternarcotics activities, especially in terms of coca eradication, we estimate that much of the coca legally grown in Bolivia is sold to drug traffickers, leading to the conclusion that social control of coca (allowing some legal growing) is not achieving the desired results," the official said in a statement.
Morales had long sought to remove language from the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which obliges its signatories to ban the chewing of coca leaves, and temporarily withdrew from it on Jan. 1, 2012.
Morales' government said a celebration was planned for Monday with coca farmers.
"It's a great achievement but much remains to be done," said Rolando Vargas, a coca growers' leader in Cochabamba who belongs to Morales' union.
Coca leaves and coca tea, which fight hunger and alleviate altitude sickness, are widely available in Peru and Colombia and the highlands of northern Argentina. The coca leaf also has deep religious and social value in the Andean region.
Its non-narcotic extract has also been used to flavor the soft drink Coca-Cola.
Bolivia has the world's third-largest coca crop, by U.N. estimate, with 31,000 hectares (120 square miles) under cultivation. More than a third of that crop is legal.
Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and U.S. counterdrug agents in 2008, accusing them of inciting the opposition.
Washington denies the accusations. Both countries have been working, so far with limited success, to restore relations at the ambassadorial level.
The text of Bolivia's reservation says it "reserves the right to allow in its territory: traditional coca leaf chewing; the consumption and use of the coca leaf in its natural state for cultural and medicinal purposes; its use in infusions; and also the cultivation, trade and possession of the coca leaf to the extent necessary for these licit purposes."
___
Associated Press Writer Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru contributed to this report.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Putting the Coca Back in Cola

Some of the best articles about the coca leaf were printed or published online in recent years before the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales declared this year that the coca leaf is both sacred from the standpoint of religion and part of the identity of the indigenous people who cultivate and use it as food and medicine. Here is a special article from November of 2006 that was never well circulated which presents the coca leaf representative to its proper place in society.

Soda pop made from coca tea. Nutritous & refreshing.

Putting the Coca Back in Cola

By Knut Henkel in Bogotá

Coca products were taboo for a long time in Colombia. Now Colombians can purchase coca wine, coca tea and coca cookies. The newest product is called Coca-Sek, an energy drink that is fast developing an international reputation -- much to the irritation of the Coca Cola company.

An ad featuring the slogan "Coca Tea -- the Holy Leaf of the Sun Children" hangs above a colorful, cloth-draped sales booth in the Santa Barbara shopping mall in Bogotá. As recently as 10 years ago, any mother would have yanked her child hastily to the side if they had passed such a stall. But things have changed: Coca tea, coca wine, coca cookies and a variety of similar products have become an integral part of every street festival and flea market in the Colombian capital.

Such products are also beginning to become standard on store shelves. David Curtidor and his wife Fabiola Acchicvé started selling coca tea to students at Javariana University seven years ago. Their product was such a hit that marketing and packaging it more professionally seemed the logical next step. Now, Curtidor can point to the boxes of teabags stacked in the corridors of the Nasa Esh building -- the headquarters of the company Curtidor and his wife founded on behalf of the Nasa, one of more than 60 indigenous tribes in Colombia.

But Curtidor's spacious store room features more than just teabags and crates full of Mate de Coca: Other boxes contain coca wine and the small company's latest product, Coca-Sek -- a yellowish cocaine-based soft drink. The invigorating drink hit the market at the end of last year and has made headlines far beyond Colombia's borders.

The soft drink has a fresh, slightly sour taste, like lemonade. Curtidor says he and his wife spent six years developing the flavor. The drink is natural, he says, just like tea -- and, unlike cocaine, it's completely harmless.

When the product was introduced, Curtidor and his handful of colleagues were barely able to produce enough to keep up with demand. The first batch of 3,000 bottles of Coca-Sek -- literally "Coca of the Sun" -- was sold out in a rush. Another 40,000 bottles were sold in the next two months -- mainly in the southern part of the country.

A US lawsuit

But the glorious start was quickly followed by trouble. First there were difficulties with the bottling plant in Popayán. Then the supply of large bottles ran out and couldn't be replaced. "In Colombia one company has a monopoly on bottle production, and that company stopped supplying us with bottles," the small man with the square black glasses explains.

For several weeks, the soft drink couldn't be produces as the search was on for a new company to take care of bottling it. But now Curtidor has a new company in Bogotá -- and has switched to aluminium cans. "The cans are lighter than bottles, which lowers our transportation costs," he says. Curtidor hopes soon to be able to sell the drink nationwide.

Several thousand cans are stacked in the store room of his small office in northern Bogotá. The bottling plant will deliver another 25,000 cans by the end of November. Then the distribution of the carbonated energy drink can start again. The stores that sell the drink -- health shops and some supermarkets -- still receive it by personal delivery. "We're only opening up the market in Bogotá one step at a time, and we have neither the capacity nor the money to produce large quantities," Curtidor says.

There are other difficulties as well. Almost the moment his product was on the market, the lawyers of soft drink giant Coca Cola started making life difficult for him. "We've been charged with violating Coca Cola's rights to the name of its product. We're not allowed to use the word 'Coca' in the name of our soft drink -- a word that is more than 5,000 years old and of indigenous origin, and which refers to a sacred plant. We're going to defend ourselves," Curtidor says.

But it's not just about economic success for Nasa Esh. It's also a question of improving the coca plant's image. "We want our products to show that coca has as little to do with cocaine as grapes have with wine."

A diet of coca

"The coca plant has long been systematically demonized in Colombia, and even its traditional and religious use was hardly accepted any more," Fredy R.C. Chikangana, a member of the indigenous Yanakona people who belongs to a group wanting to promote the benefits of coca, explains.

That's not exactly surprising. After all, the devastating cocaine trade -- based on a drug produced largely on the basis of coca leaves -- has shaped, or rather destroyed, the entire country. Some 8,000 tons of cocaine are still produced every year, drug expert Ricardo Vargas estimates. The left-wing guerrilla groups FARC and ELN finance themselves mainly by selling the white powder, as do right-wing militias.

But Chikangana's people, the Yanakona, are trying to use their products to draw attention to the positive effects of the plant. Coca is simply part of his diet -- and, just like his ancestors, he chews a few coca leaves every day.

The high nutritional value of the demonized shrub, whose leaves curb the appetite, is widely recognized, Chikangana points out. The green leaves contain not just calcium, iron and phosphate, but also magnesium and vitamins. Coca-based shampoo, toothpaste and soap are already on the market in Bolivia and Peru. The range of products is expanding every year.

Besides coca tea and cookies, Chikangana also sells a coca-based ointment -- called "Kokasana" -- that can be used to treat arthritis, muscle injuries and rheumatism. The product range will soon be expanded by a juice produced from the leaves of the coca shrub. The Sol y Serpiente Foundation, which is supported by the children's rights organization Terres des Hommes, wants to start an education campaign on coca.

The champions of coca are also concerned with maintaining the traditional customs in the villages of Colombia. One such custom is mambeo, the chewing of coca leaves -- a widespread practice in Peru and Bolivia, but limited in Colombia where indigenous tribes make up the country's smallest minority with barely 700,000 people.

Not a legal market

Unlike its neighbors Peru and Bolivia, though, Colombia has no legal market for coca leaves. Cultivation for personal consumption is only allowed in the resguardos or indigenous reservations, according to the country's 1991 constitution. Nevertheless, says Chikangana, police often raid reservations looking for the plant.

Transporting the leaves to Bogotá for further processing is also a challenge. Sometimes the police confiscate the leaves, even though there is no legal basis for doing so. "Coca cultivation is not punishable under Colombian law," Curtidor explains. "Only the chemical processing of the leaves to make cocaine is illegal. But such processing is completely alien to the indigenous culture."

Still the Colombian state refuses to allow the production of coca products -- unlike the governing bodies of the Nasa community, who are constitutionally entitled to make binding political decisions within the reservations. These governing bodies have given the Nasa Esh company a license to develop and distribute coca products.

Until now, the indigenous rights haven't been seriously challenged by the Colombian government, despite President Alvaro Uribe personally stating that all coca shrubs in the country will be eliminated. But the authorities are a long way from realizing that goal. For their part, the indigenous coca producers consider every coca leaf they process a leaf lost to the drug producers.

Plus, the plant could provide the indigenous community with new prospects, since the economic outlook for Coca-Sek and related products seems promising. The energy drink could even become a serious rival other drinks such as Gatorade. One of the slim 200 milliliter (6.8 ounce) cans contains more calcium than one liter (0.26 gallons) of milk and more phosphorus than a serving of fish -- and the iron content tops that of a plate of spinach.

Curtidor has another set of potential customers amongst those who refuse to drink Coca Cola because the company has been accused of persecuting trade unionists in Colombia.

He hasn't considered exporting his unusual soft drink yet. The two coca entrepreneurs lack the raw materials necessary for large-scale production. Coca is only cultivated in small quantities in the Colombian reservations -- quantities sufficient to keep production going, but too small to allow for big profits. But the two have gone a long way towards realizing their goal of giving the plant a new image: Little tea bags filled with ground coca leaves are already making an appearance in the country's parliament.

Republished from Spiegel Online

As the Internet becomes more connected as it has in recent weeks we are receiving many new articles that were previously hidden from search engines. Keep up with our blog as I qualify, upload and share the most important and relative research about the coca leaf to bring it all together. Those watching our blog should add themselves through Google+, Facebook, or Networked Blogs to keep up and become aware as new issues and research become available relative to the coca leaf. 

Our objective will be to present all of the information and prove to the public that the coca leaf is a panacea to humanity that prevents diseases, cures ills, makes the mind lucid and strong, nourishes the body and provides essential nutrients. The problems experienced in societies where cocaine is abused is more relative to governments inability to properly manage and foster its citizens in a social structure. As we will see, the people of the world will not allow companies like Coca-Cola to produce and process 200 tons of leaves each year to get their base for their product and totally control it. The coca is good for you and the makers of Coca Cola know that.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The coca leaf, national identity, and the struggle to protect it


The Fight for the Coca Leaf


From: The Sydney Globalist
Alexandra Dzero explores the history and changing role of the coca leaf.


The coca leaf - small, dark green and relatively unremarkable - would probably not be noticed by an untrained eye. Tourists arriving in La Paz eagerly take photos of Indigenous women selling the plant, while bewildered locals look on. As you chew the coca leaf your mouth numbs, your headache clears and breathing becomes easier at the extreme altitude. Apart from these humble side effects, the leaf is used for another purpose: as the base ingredient in the manufacture of cocaine. It is this fact that has caused an international legal, political and economic war for over 48 years.

The Andean people have been chewing the coca leaf for centuries, with British anthropologist Alison Spedding revealing traces of the leaf amongst ancient Peruvian storehouses dating back to 1,000 BC. After their first introduction to coca, tourists realise that it will take a lot more for the effects of the leaf to turn into those of its more infamous by-product. 72 chemicals and extensive processes are needed to turn the green coca leaf into a white powder, and tourists’ initial excitement soon wanes as they realise how normal and everyday the presence of the coca leaf is to the Bolivians.

However, the coca leaf has come onto the international stage once more. It is wedged between U.S.-backed arguments that all traditional practices should be banned and the calls of the new Bolivian President, Evo Morales, for the leaf to be returned to its rightful position as a traditional plant that has been used not only for its physical benefits, but also as a symbol of Indigenous life.

In 1961, the UN adopted the Convention on Drug Control, officially defining the coca leaf as a drug in the same category as cocaine, and instructing that the chewing of the coca leaf should be abolished within 25 years of a signatory signing the Convention. Bolivia signed the Convention in 1976, but although the deadline for abolition expired in 2001, the coca leaf remains as prominent as ever in Bolivian culture.

In general, Bolivia saw few of the consequences of signing the 1961 Convention until the 1980s. In 1988, the UN adopted the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances to reinforce both the 1961 Convention, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. On July 19, 1988, Bolivia passed the infamous Law 1008, which promoted voluntary coca crop eradication and the enforcement of a national legal limit of 12,000 hectares of coca crop for traditional use. These 12,000 hectares were to be restricted to the Los Yungas region and all other crops, including those of the traditional Chapare region, were to be destroyed.

“As you chew the coca leaf your mouth numbs, your headache clears and breathing becomes easier at the extreme altitude.”

Current estimates place the size of the Bolivian coca leaf crop anywhere between 22,000 and 25,000 hectares. Therefore, any excess of the 12,000 mark is open to U.S.-backed eradication programs, most often conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Tensions between Bolivia and the U.S. have escalated since the 2005 election of the outspoken Indigenous President Evo Morales, who has staunchly opposed increased U.S. pressure to begin expanding coca eradication. In early March 2009, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) released a report stating that to “allow the cultivation and consumption of the coca leaf … in particular coca leaf chewing … is contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Convention on Drug Control”. In the same month, Morales attended the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, where he attempted to convince the UN to remove the coca leaf from the narcotics list and to reintroduce it as a legal plant.

The argument Morales presented to the Commission was that the drug classification was a “mistake” and that it is time “for the international community to reverse its misguided policy toward the coca leaf”. This argument is rooted in the belief that the coca leaf is an integral part of Bolivian culture and identity, and that its eradication, based on what are perceived to be U.S. interests, is a form of Western neo-imperialism.

The unwillingness of the U.S. to soften its hardline approach is not aiding the problem in any way. The attitude that “there is no other use for coca but cocaine” and that the properties of the coca leaf are in fact dangerous is pervasive within their proposed strategy.

In the 1990s, the World Health Organisation presented a report stating the coca leaf did not present any foreseeable health problems. In 2006, it released a further report, which identified the ability of the coca leaf to suppress appetite and increase endurance, as well as recognising the leaf’s historic use “for the relief of gastrointestinal problems and respiratory ailments and treatment of altitude sickness”. According to a 1975 Harvard study, the leaf is rich in phosphorous, calcium, riboflavin, vitamins, and iron.

“The coca leaf is an invaluable and integral part of Bolivian life. U.S. attempts to eradicate it represent a narrow-minded assault on traditional Bolivian life.”

By invoking the criminalised status of the coca leaf, the U.S.-backed ‘War on Drugs’ has been able to continue its operations for eradication within Bolivia. The well-funded project is largely based on the false notion that it is possible to solve U.S. domestic narcotic issues by stemming international supply.

By pretending to shrug off Morales’ dismissal of DEA officials and expulsion of U.S. ambassadors from Bolivia, the U.S. has found itself between a rock and a hard place. Refusing to pull out of a process that has already cost it so much, the U.S. is now left fighting a determined and popular leader who, with his famous statement “Coca Si, Cocaina No”, has risen on a wave of cocalero support from the very section of the population that the U.S. is attempting to influence.

The election of Morales as head of both the Coca Growers Union and the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party reflects the Bolivians’ desire for a strong nationalistic leader who will rectify Bolivia’s long-standing lack of international confidence. Since being elected, Morales has taken a firm and confident stance against U.S. intervention. Ignoring U.S. requests, he has expanded policies regarding coca growth, allowing an extension to 1,600 square metres, otherwise known as a cato, of coca leaf cultivation per family. U.S. intervention in Bolivia’s domestic affairs has become highly unwelcome, with the coca leaf, as an integral aspect of Bolivian cultural identity, being used as the rally call.

Coca leaf eradication programmes, as well as the overarching ‘War on Drugs’, have generally been considered a failure and the U.S. has not been able to offer any new or flexible alternatives. Cocaine is still widely available within the U.S. and its price has fallen significantly over the past two decades. The U.S. strategy will continue to fail until it recognises the basic economic rule that demand will inevitably create its own supply. Attempting to prohibit the coca leaf has only further financed organised crime, both in Bolivia and the U.S.

Isolated and impoverished peasants looking to sell their excess crops will attempt to sell it to the highest bidder, which in most cases will take the form of the ‘narco-trafficker’. High demand for cocaine thus leads to greater profits for peasants, whose only other option is to destroy their excess crop and forsake much-needed money.

The question is not only one of economics. Why should Bolivian coca growers change what they have been growing for centuries in order to appease another state? In essence, the U.S. is holding Bolivia, as well as Peru and Columbia, responsible for its domestic problems of drug abuse.

The double standards of the situation are harshly illuminated when the scenario is inverted. If Bolivia were battling national alcoholism, would the U.S. ever stand to be told to stop producing the barley that goes into the manufacture of alcohol? The situation is further exacerbated by the U.S. Government’s allowance of the Coca-Cola Company to import the coca leaf to flavour its famous soft drink. A member of the constituent assembly, Sabino Mendoza, asked the simple question: “Why they don’t also ban Coca-Cola? If they think coca is poisoning their people, why they don’t also ban alcohol and tobacco?”

The solution may be in line with what Morales and others are suggesting. The coca leaf market should be expanded rather than contracted by diverging into markets where the coca leaf can be used in toothpaste, confectionary, teas, and drinks. Allowing a greater legal base of demand will soak up excess supply and allow fewer coca leaves to fall into the wrong hands. Such projects have already been successfully implemented in Peru, where the state company Enaco has begun exporting coca teas to South Africa and supplying coca as an anaesthetic to Japan and Belgium.

Dogmatically pursuing the hardline will not win the U.S. the results for which it is searching. The coca leaf is an invaluable and integral part of Bolivian life. U.S. attempts to eradicate it represent a narrow-minded assault on traditional Bolivian life. A new, more flexible and more pragmatic solution is required and it may be time to turn an ear to those straining to be heard. It might just be time to embrace the coca leaf instead of persisting in the fruitless war to destroy it.
Alexandra Dzero is in her second year of a Bachelor of International and Global Studies, majoring in Political Economy and Government and International Relations.

Sydney Globalist: The Fight for the Coca Leaf

The Coca Leaf: myths, cultural racism and human freedom.

Coca leaf: myths, racism and its medicinal and nutritional value.
Publicado Originalmente: Miércoles 16 de febrero del 2011
Por: diariolaprimeraperu.com  Translated by Google

Coca and racism in Peru 

The coca leaf (Erythroxylum coca) was the sacred plant of the Incas and their consumption among Andean-Amazonian peoples. Today in Peru is still of vital importance and significance as an economic factor, ritual, medicinal, social and cultural .

In this regard, Dr. Fernando Cabieses Molina, a prominent neurologist who died recently in his book "Coca ¿tragic dilemma?" (Lima , 1992), writes: "The profound mystical significance, religious, mythological and cultural arraigadamente coca is not replaceable by any other element in the Andes. The abolition of coca would be well in a cruel act of genocide, murder cultural and flagrant violation of human rights . "

(Photo Right) The ancient plant used by the Incas, although its healing drug was described as the Vienna Convention (1961) and has since started a worldwide campaign of demonization in order to eradicate it, but in recent years Bolivia's government initiative seeks to decriminalize coca leaf. In this effort will add more countries.

In the opinion of Cabieses adds the expert and defender of the coca Baldomero Caceres, who, in his text "Mamacoca" warns that the picchado, or coking chacchado Andean-Amazon has been considered by other authors mostly unscientific as a form of "chronic intoxication" and the consequences are, according to these authors, weak mental performance and social and cultural poverty.

Precisely the work of psychiatrists Hermilio Valdizán, 1913 and Gutiérrez Noriega 1944-1946, served as the basis for the condemnation and criminalization of coca leaf in the Single Convention of Vienna of 1961, which calls the coca leaf of narcotic and picchado or chacchado of addiction.

The condemnation of coca leaf by the Single Convention of Vienna of 1961 has done nothing but add more items bigots the enemies of coca past and present who, under the specious unscientific assertion that the traditional use of the blade generates negative effects on the health of consumers, cast an evil racist innuendo on Andean-Amazonian peoples.

The confusion between coca and cocaine and the "war worldwide against Drugs "unleashed from the centers of political and economic world is, especially from the United States , have radicalized the racist against picchadores or chacchadores of coca leaf .

Because both the Vienna Convention of 1961 and the strategies of the anti drugs are presented as objective the eradication of the plant, as the raw material of the hydrochloride of cocaine, one of the drugs in use in global societies and postmodern century XXI.

Nutritional 


Besides its cultural importance, economic, religious, mythical, mythological, the coca leaf has medicinal values ​​and healing. This will medicinal properties assigned to treat digestive disorders, to eliminate altitude sickness, relieve hoarseness and toothache, rheumatic pains combat, among other uses sanctioned and legitimized by the daily practice of folk medicine.

But coca is not only the values ​​cited above. One of the most cited studies concerning the nutritional properties of thecoca leaf is the one conducted by Harvard University in 1975 and entitled "Nutritional value of coca leaf . " In that study, states that 100 grams daily chewing of coca leaf meets the daily food ration of a man or woman. One hundred grams of coca leaf , according to the same study, containing about two grams of potassium that are vital to the balance of the heart.

The poor pay more 


The most comprehensive and rigorous study carried out in recent years about the coca -eight thousand people were surveyed, it made ​​2004 the National Statistics Institute (INEI) at the time chaired by Farid Matuk.

The findings of the study, for some reason were very little known, perhaps because in those days there was a campaign official said that for every 10 coca leaves produced in the country, nine were diverted to drug trafficking .Furthermore, it was said and still says that consumers in the coca leaf is legal counted on the fingers of the hand, and stated and continue so the drug pay higher prices for coca leaf and, therefore, no legal crop can compete with the prices paid by the illicit economy.

The study in question showed that these and other statements were mere assumptions and speculations investigatory basis. Thus, the INEI survey stated that coca production in 2004 totaled 52.700 tonnes.

Of that total, 43.700 tons were channeled to the illegal activity of the drug , while 9, 000 metric tons were intended for legal use. This important legal consumption volume derivative showed that it was true that in ten coca leaves produced in Peru , 9 were diverted to drug trafficking .

The survey indicated that a total of 4 million Peruvians use coca legally and traditional. Those 4 million Peruviansmake 15% of the population.

Furthermore, contrary to belief, fueled racism and prejudice that only picchan Andean coca, the study reveals that in fact 72% of consumers of coca leaf are in the Sierra, with 43% in the Southern Highlands, 20% in the Central Sierra and 8% in the Sierra Norte, but 20% of consumers on the coast, in the urban and modern in the country and 8% in the Amazon .

Upon inquiry, the surveyors of INEI of how they perceive the legal coca consumption, 30% of respondents said that their perception is positive.

At the same time that the INEI conducted its survey, released fieldwork on the prices of coca leaf in the rural market, particularly among the peasants picchadores. According to these field investigations, not the drug trade that pays the highest prices on the coca leaf , but the poorest peasants Andean-Amazonian.

For example, villagers in the valley Vilcashuaman in Ayacucho , routinely pay S /. 1 for a bag of coca leaf weighing 1 ounce. That is, since an ounce is 30.5 grams, the poorest peasant Andean-Amazonian region was paying in 2004 a whopping S/.35 per kilo.

On the contrary, illegal or black market, pay an average of U.S. $ 2 a kilo of leaf change, ie, 6 to S/.7 according to exchange rate

In 2004, when INEI of the study, the National Coca Company ( ENACO ) sold to intermediary traders at the following prices: arroba of coca from first to S /. 140 is, S /. 12.72 soles per kilogram, arroba of second to S /. 130, ie, S /.11.80 per kilogram and the third quality arroba trading at S /. 120, equivalent to S /. 10.90 kg.

In that year, ENACO paid for coca from first to S /. 60.00 at sign, earning juicy profits at the expense of the rural poor Andean-Amazonian.

As if all this were not enough for rural poverty, coca consumed by the peasants were not whole leaves, clean and nice, but almost always dirty and torn sheets.

By Roger Rumrrill

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Caracas is a long way to go for a cup of coca tea, however the trip may be worth it.

Tourists not only drink coca tea in Venezuela, they sell it too
 New cooperative provides weary travelers with jobs, food and shelter

Caracas, 21 June 2012  |  An extraordinary cafeteria opens today in Caracas, Venezuela; primarily because their cuisine is not ordinary at all or even similar to any other restaurant in the world. The fare includes powerful medicinal plants that are classified as drugs by the United Nations, being prepared as teas and superfoods. Diners do not need a doctor’s prescription to eat there, but they may choose to be very careful with what they order because cocaine is on the menu. The medicinal kitchen prepares items made from coca leaves, amaranth, quinoa, mushrooms, cacti, ginseng, guarana, wormwood, kava kava, noni, acai berries, hibiscus flowers, and hundreds of other ingredients from the plant kingdom including cannabis seed cooking oil.

 

For the inauguration the eatery is serving free samples of “Triple Coca Tea,” an energy drink invented by the founder that uses coca leaves imported from Peru and Bolivia. The tea makers also serve Venezuelan coffee, Chinese tea, tisanes, mates, infusions, concoctions and decoctions representative of cultures all over the world.

The restaurant is different in a number of ways; one of the most fundamental is that it is being operated as a cooperative so it enjoys special privileges and exemptions under the socialist government of President Hugo Chavez and the daily workers are tourist volunteers from other countries. David Wright, expat from the United States founded the business concept as an international cooperative hostel to complement the revolution underway in Venezuela, create international exchange, and establish a unique service for health conscious people who desire alternatives to conventional medicines.

According to Olandio Giovannetti, one of the cooperative owners from Argentina, “It’s not a pharmacy and we are not medical doctors, we are culinary artists and we make food, but occasionally you may expect to find a shaman or two visiting from the Amazon. Our idea is based on providing natural medicinal dishes made from organic ingredients and to implement the great wealth of indigenous knowledge we have available to us today into our diets.”

Wright, the tea master who prepares the infusions said, “The healing power of herbal teas and medicinal infusions is incredible; there are brews available for everything from diabetes to hair loss. I feel most rewarded when the people who drink the teas I prepare report back and tell me they are thinking more clearly, experiencing improvements to their general health and say they sleep more soundly. The coca tea resolves a number of these medical complaints including insomnia, cholesterol and diabetes.”

Another difference between the collective and other companies is that it engages volunteers from abroad that want to visit or live in Venezuela for a month or more and provides them with the opportunity to work, co-hosts them during their stay, helps coordinate Go Abroad volunteers, CouchSurfing and HostelWorld stays, and plans group trips visiting other coop members in the Amazon, the Gran Sabana, and other destinations using Facebook and Google+. In exchange the visitors are asked to bring herbs, spices, and supplies needed from their home countries for the restaurant operation and they also help grow and harvest wild herbs in the Amazon.

Raul Ibarra, Venezuelan and partner in Wright’s coca tea product, said, “I thinks the idea of hosting working tourists is great, both my children are university students and they really benefit meeting people from other cultures, so I set aside a room in my home to host arriving travelers.”

Last week, Dani Redd, from Totnes, Great Britain stayed with Ibarra for a few days and worked for Ekōbius preparing the restaurant and selling coca tea in the capital’s principal public square, Plaza Bolivar. She said, “this volunteering abroad opportunity allowed me to come and visit Venezuela on a shoestring budget, get to know its historic district, whilst meeting interesting people and visiting interesting sites.”

Joe Sáenz, Venezuelan traveler and artisan joined the cooperative in April as a supporting member to market the tea in the Sabana Grande area of Caracas to tourists and passers-by. Sáenz said, “I am really enthusiastic about selling the tea, because it is a unique product and because of all the interesting people I meet.” Joel Dominguez and Gaston Ceballos, musicians from Uruguay, joined the cooperative recently to sell the company’s flagship product “Triple Coca Tea” on the street corners until August to earn extra cash. Both said they enjoyed selling the tea because of the people’s interest in the product.

Now just yesterday David Iriarte, well-known expedition guide from Jujuy, Argentina (where coca is legal) arrived with Mariangeles Incolla also from Argentina. The pair are joining the cooperative as their baker and cook to make integral breads and other nutritious recipes with amaranth, coca and quinoa. 

It’s also worth noting that the cooperative also has a buddy program, where Venezuelans studying foreign language at a advanced or conversational level buddy up with tourists to show them around as guides, an open public English workshop for students which is held weekly, and plans to present other public workshops and meetings relative to natural living and health foods.

Infusions and superfoods are widely accepted by phytotherapists in Latin America where herbal medicines are used frequently compared to other countries; science and man have known for thousands of years the power of the herbs, spices and medicinal plants being used by the restaurateurs. It’s not a new idea to exploit the naturally occurring alkaloids, flavonoids, adaptogens, antioxidants, vitamins, and trace minerals of these fantastic plants, but it is news for a restaurant using modern technology and new social networking protocols to bring it all together.

-30-

Contact: David Wright, Ekobius International Cooperative, +58 (212) 516-0361 email: problemsmith@gmail.com
To have your email removed from this media contact database opt out here. http://tinyurl.com/optoutdatabase

News References:
AFP (Agence France-Presse) April 23, 2012  http://tinyurl.com/AFPCoca - YouTube
NTN24 (Nuestra Tele Noticias) April 23, 2012 http://tinyurl.com/NTN24Coca - YouTube
Ultimas Noticias, April 23, 2012, Semillas y Ceremonias por la Madre Tierra Pp.4.– Not available online

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Best Coca Tea is made by an American living in Venezuela

Most potent coca tea in the world is made by a US Citizen in Caracas

Triple 3x Coca Tea is being sold on street corners all over Caracas, but is it legal?

News for Immediate Release

CARACAS, 19 June 2012 | Thousands of people have drunk coca tea in Caracas since the coca leaf was implicitly legalized by Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez in February, 2008. Since then there have been public forums and state declarations signed in Caracas including the ‘Declaration of Caracas’ that March, in favor of the popular and traditional use of the coca leaf. More recently a declaration was signed by 33 heads of state who are members of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) at their summit in December of 2011, supporting the use of the coca leaf in Bolivia and Peru, and now there are new recent initiatives by Latin American leaders to end America’s War on Drugs which were flatly rejected by Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas, suggesting the legalization of coca leaves and marijuana internationally.

Despite being legalized by the Venezuelan president, the United Nations maintains that the coca leaf is illegal in all countries and violates the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, because its the raw material used to produce the illicit chemically altered cocaine hydrochloride, a dangerous yet popular narcotic in the US and Europe. Commercial importation of coca leaves and coca leaf products is prohibited by International Maritime and Aviation law, making it a product difficult to find in Venezuela. Products made using the coca leaf- such as tea bags and candy are scarce except at a few cultural fairs, diplomatic events, and ethnic food stores with connections to the Andean people from Colombia to Argentina.

This doesn’t stop the Coca Tea Company, now part of “infusion Cooltura” as it’s called on Facebook from getting coca leaves and brewing coca tea in Caracas. Thousands of people are drinking Triple Coca Tea right in the center of the city every week; the coca based brew is served everyday on street corners. On weekends and holidays you are likely to find coca tea vendors at cultural events or near the Plaza of the Museums at the entrance of Los Caobos Park serving both hot and cold coca tea to the artisans that line the streets and the public.

David Wright selling coca tea at cultural event.
David Wright, an American expat, from Berea, Kentucky who is known in the US as an environmentalist, has been living in Caracas since 2001, where he has been making and selling coca tea commercially for over a year. He says, “the best coca tea in the world is brewed with fresh sun-dried whole organic leaves, to take full advantage of the superfood and medicinal benefits of the infusion. The tea must be strong to possess all the properties of the leaf, including the plant alkaloid cocaine which needs to be present as well as the 13 other naturally occurring alkaloids. When it’s brewed correctly it will also have vitamins, minerals, and be rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, trace nutrients, and flavonoids.”

Companies such as Coca-Cola and AGWA Liquor use decocainized leaves as flavoring agents; however Wright says, “that decocainizing the coca leaf also removes the nutritional and medicinal properties. The leaf in its natural state is known as a preventive medicine that is effective in controlling and preventing osteoporosis, arthritis, degenerative bone diseases, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, colic, diabetes, cholesterol and it’s also an effective remedy for those wishing to lose weight or regulate their metabolism.”

Wright started a street-side vending business with his wife Sonia called “Teas of the World” on the corner near the central farmer´s market in Caracas two years ago. They served and prepared over 100 different types of teas, tisanes and infusions to shoppers who visit the market daily. One hot summer day, hot tea was not selling too well, so he decided to make a refreshing and energizing cold tea using what was then his most popular hot tea ingredient, coca.

Today he sells his ice cold Triple Coca Tea around the town square at the Bolivar Plaza while he promotes the benefits of the coca leaf with a brochure compiled from his own research into its properties. Last month others began selling his product and distributing the brochures, while he hosted an exposition about the benefits of the coca leaf as food and medicine, and now this month is opening a medicinal tea house and superfood restaurant in the food court of a local mall, near the entrance of the Venezuela National Assembly in front of the Capital Plaza.

Soon many more people will be aware of the enormous benefits of the coca leaf, and there will be lots of coca tea in Caracas for some time to come.

-30- 


Contact: David Wright, Ekobius International Cooperative, +58 (212) 516-0361 email: problemsmith@gmail.com
To have your email removed from our media contact database opt out here. http://tinyurl.com/optoutdatabase

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coca Leaf, Erythroxylum coca: Miracle Plant, Panacea Medicinal

Original Source: Heath24

Coca leaf: a miracle plant?

As a kid growing up in Peru, we drank coca tea frequently, especially when we needed an extra dose of energy or we headed for the heights of the Andes on a winter escape, writes Xavier Saer for Kilo2kili.

For centuries, the coca leaf has been revered as a divine gift from Mother Earth by the people of the Andes. During the time of the Inca, the sacred leaf was used as currency and a pivotal part of holy ceremonies. In its natural state, coca leaf is considered benevolent as it contains riboflavin, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.

A study conducted by Harvard University found that chewing 100 grams of coca leaves is the equivalent of a full day of nutritional sustenance for an adult. The leaf acts as a natural stimulant and is effective in combating fatigue, hunger, thirst and altitude sickness.

This miracle plant also helps to reduce the tendency toward adult onset diabetes and obesity; it is rich in antioxidants, regulates blood glucose and enhances the metabolism. And it tastes good too, tasting like green tea but with a milder bitterness.

Is coca tea a drug?

This has been a subject of controversy since Albert Niemann first isolated the primary alkaloid of the leaf, also known as cocaine in 1860. On the one hand, coca tea is healthy. On the other, cocaine can send you to the grave.

Many people ask, "Does coca tea contain cocaine?"

The answer is yes.

Wait, it’s no time to panic. Tea contains teine. Coffee contains caffeine. Cocaine is an alkaloid, and the quantities present in a cup of coca tea are minimal. These traces provide only a small energising sensation, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.

To produce a gram of cocaine one would need several kilos of leaves and harmful chemical products. A cup of coca tea contains approximately one gram of coca leaves and 4.2 mg of coca alkaloid. A line of cocaine contains between 20 and 30 milligrams (plus the added chemicals.) That’s a tremendous difference.

'Healthy stimulant'

In countries like Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, you can sit down in a restaurant or a shack on the side of the road and enjoy a cup of coca tea, with all its benefits without hassle. Millions of people enjoy the great taste of this popular beverage without judgement. There, coca tea is sold in all supermarkets and there is no age limit to purchase it.

As a kid growing up in Peru, we drank coca tea frequently, especially when we needed an extra dose of energy or we headed for the heights of the Andes on a winter escape.

In its natural state, the coca leaf is no short of a miracle medicinal plant. Nature is perfect. Yet, when its compound is extracted and processed with chemicals, the same plant can be harmful.

How you decide to look at the plant is based on your perceptions. I personally think coca leaf is like any other plant: made as nature intended. Coca leaf is a healthy stimulant and refreshing beverage with a unique taste and unfortunately, a bad name. Why don’t you try it and see for yourself?

Coca leaf tea (called mate de coca in Peru) is currently available in South Africa (namely at Spar stores).

(Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org; www.inkanat.com; www.livestrong.comwww.ehow.com)

Written by Xavier Saer for Kilo2kili, a for profit social enterprise focused on making a South Africa Lean & Green while, contribution through adventure and innovation.

- (Health24, June 2012)

Title edited for material sourced from Health24. New title, Coca Leaf, Erythroxylum coca: Miracle Plant, Panacea Medicinal. For the best and most qualified stories about the coca leaf follow our blog and follow us on Facebook. Coca Tea Company is a DBA trade name for products manufactured by Ekobius International Cooperative at their restaurant and meeting house in Caracas, Venezuela.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Coca Diplomacy: “Yes to Coca, No to Cocaine”

Spotlight on Bolivia: The “Coca Diplomacy” of Evo Morales

This analysis was prepared by Alexander Frye, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs



At last month’s meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Bolivian President Evo Morales made headlines by dramatically brandishing a coca leaf he had apparently smuggled into the Austrian city between the pages of a book. The coca leaf, which is the unrefined source of cocaine and is considered an illegal substance under the UN’s 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, holds special significance for the Bolivian leader. A former cultivator of the plant himself, Morales swept into the presidency in 2006 with the backing of Bolivia’s cocaleros movement, a syndicate of coca-growers unions Morales has helmed for decades.
The standard-bearer of his own political party, the Movement Toward Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS), Morales has faithfully conformed to the MAS platform. His tenure has seen the establishment of an intensely nationalistic, left-leaning government whose ambitions lie in the installment of a uniquely Bolivian brand of “Andean capitalism,” and whose support base is firmly rooted in Bolivia’s largely agrarian indigenous population. As President of Bolivia and leader of the cocaleros, Morales has remained true to his constituency, having instituted a policy of “Yes to Coca, No to Cocaine” (Coca Sí, Cocaína No). Under the policy, the cultivation of coca for legal purposes has been expanded, while the Bolivian government has ramped up efforts to crack down on the illegal production of cocaine. Meanwhile, Morales has lobbied for international acceptance of the coca leaf, citing its importance in Andean culture and touting its uses in everything from medicine and soap, to candy and liquor.
As the third largest producer of cocaine, Bolivia represents an enormously important area of interest for the United States. The Andean nation’s drug policy is of vital concern to Washington, and so when the Morales government officially devotes 12,000 hectares—about 30,000 acres, though Bolivian coca occupies approximately triple that in reality—to the cultivation of a plant classified internationally as an illegal substance, the United States takes notice, and when it calls for 8,000 more to be set aside, that is doubly true. Thus, Morales’ advocacy on behalf of the deceptively innocuous-looking coca leaf, combined with his naturally outspoken demeanor, has left many U.S. officials ill at ease.
Washington, traditionally in favor of the complete eradication of the plant as part of its ongoing War on Drugs, has in recent years endorsed alternative development programs. Yet the success of these programs, which subsidize farmers who choose to suspend their cultivation of coca in favor of other crops, has been limited, as coca is far more cost-effective than alternatives like coffee and rice, which are more labor-intensive and require more land to grow. And so while recent spikes in global food prices and renewed USAID pushes for alternative development models have made life without coca more feasible for the average farmer, the polarizing plant remains an attractive option for many Bolivians. Indeed, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, although significant eradication efforts have been made under the Morales administration, they “have not resulted in a net reduction in the cultivation of coca,” and thus illicit cocaine production in Bolivia has held steady at an estimated 195 tons annually.
The sheer size of Bolivia’s domestic cocaine industry, to say nothing of the vast amounts of the drug produced elsewhere and shipped through Bolivia en route to markets in the U.S. or Brazil, is of grave concern to the United States. And Morales, who expelled the American ambassador and drove U.S. DEA agents from the country in 2008, has done little to assuage Washington’s fears. Such tensions between U.S. policymakers and the oft-critical Latin American leader play into the larger narrative of Washington’s War on Drugs, as the U.S., in waging its patently ruinous crusade, has continually sought to pressure Latin American countries into falling in line with its own agenda.
Hence, what Washington calls a warranted effort to cut the hemisphere’s flow of cocaine off at its source, many Latin American countries see as an attempt on the part of the world’s largest consumer of cocaine to bully them into footing the bill for the United States’ own problems at home. And for Morales, frequent critic of the U.S. and unabashed advocate of the coca leaf, the idea of scaling back cultivation of a potentially lucrative and culturally significant resource at the behest of such a bully is absurd. Consequently, so long as Washington continues to push for eradication in accordance with the failed War on Drugs to which it so desperately clings, La Paz—and Morales—will continue to be a thorn in the side of the United States.
If Washington is interested in putting an end to the plague of drug-related violence that has racked the hemisphere for decades, then short of a full-throated endorsement of outright decriminalization, it must find willing partners. And to do that, it has to be willing to work with those who have their own domestic agendas to contend with. In the case of Evo Morales, this means recognizing that coca is not cocaine, just as wheat is not beer and grapes not wine, and acting accordingly. It means respecting a country’s millennia-old heritage, and it means opening the doors to a large and previously untaxed area of the market. But most of all, it means acknowledging that Washington does not have all the answers.
This analysis was prepared by Alexander Frye, Research Associate for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
Please accept this article as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution. Exclusive rights can be negotiated. 
To make comments please see the article at its source. Council on Hemispheric Affairs