Coca leaves in Bolivia

May 24 2014

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any myths surround coca. Every day press accounts around the world use the word coca in their headlines, when they refer in fact to cocaine. TNI's Drugs and Democracy Team expose the myths and reality surrounding the coca leaf. Coca is a plant native to South America that plays an important role in Andean societies. In addition to its medicinal value (stimulant, anesthetic, appetite suppressant), it has a leading role in social interaction and religious ceremonies.

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nfortunately, the "sacred leaf" began to be used for other purposes at the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, it has become the raw material for cocaine production. The plant is one of the main reasons for the deterioration of the relationship between Bolivia and the United States, since the US proposed eradication of the coca leaf with the help of Bolivian governments prior to those of Evo Morales. Coca is a plant whose historic significance dates from pre-colonial times. It is believed that its use encompassed the entire Andes during the Tiwanaku empire and later the Inca empire. The oldest coca leaf was found on the northern coast of Peru dating from 2500 BCE.

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