Monday, December 26, 2005

What will Evo do?

I've been slacking off on the drug war during the holidays so let's talk about Boliva. Cocalero Evo Morales was just elected by a strong majority in a democratic election although you wouldn't know it to hear the Bush administration talk about it. They don't like him.

He was elected on a platform to legalize the coca plant and preventing foreign takeovers of Boliva's resources through the "free trade" scam currently being peddled by the White House. Bush seeks to tar Morales with the same false impression they spin around Venezuela's Chavez.
[A] major concern, say US officials, is the relationship between Mr. Morales and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. "The administration has found mounting evidence that Venezuela is actively using its oil wealth to destabilize its democratic neighbors in the Americas by funding anti-democratic groups in Bolivia, Ecuador, and elsewhere," wrote acting Assistant Secretary of State Matt Reynolds earlier this year.
That's White House hogwash. Chavez was democratically elected twice by a great majority of his people as well and it's the Bush administration that has tried to destabilize Venezuela and the rest of the Americas, first by sponsoring a coup against Chavez, and then by underwriting his opponents, who happen to be the wealthy 20% of that country. Kind of like Latin Bush Rangers in reverse.

Both Chavez and now Morales work for the common man and the common good. They're both indigenous people, not the Caucasian based natives that form the ruling class in these countries. It's true Chavez can be a little extreme and leans towards socialism but his policies have benefited the working class and the poor. One expects Morales will do the same and will be just as tough on foreign corporate exploitation.

One also expects Evo to make a big dent in the war on some drugs. After all he started in politics as the head of the largest union of coca growers in Bolivia's Chapare region. I have great hopes that he will be able to legalize the leaf for the indigenous people, who use it out of tradition and necessity, and in the process create a successful model for plant legalization in general. He will at least will keep the mighty US sponsored eradication planes out of his country and thus spare a few hectares of the planet from the prohibitionist's poisons.

There's reason to hope. Evo hopes to create a world market for coca products and there's many non-drug related commercial uses for the plant, from toothpaste to nutritional supplements. Like agricultural hemp, the coca leaf is a rich source of essential nutrients. And we need more world leaders willing to make a statement like this.
"Coca is not cocaine," Morales said. "The producer of coca leaf is not a drug trafficker and the consumer is not an addict, this must be clear."
It's clear to many. It's only those who profit from the prohibition would refuse to see the truth.


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