Sunday, June 18, 2006

Morales moves toward legal coca trade

How refreshing to see a politician keep his promises.
LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Bolivian President Evo Morales visited a coca-growing region on Saturday to open a Venezuelan-funded factory where coca leaves will be made into legal products such as tea and soft drinks. [...]

"Manufacturing coca (products) doesn't do any harm because coca isn't a drug," Morales told hundreds of coca farmers gathered in a stadium in the town of Irupana, in the Yungas region 85 miles from La Paz. The event was broadcast on state television.[...]

The government is optimistic of finding markets for the country's legal coca products in Venezuela, Cuba, China and India -- which officials say have already expressed interest.[...]

"They're going to make flour, tea, soft drinks and other products in the first two plants,"Agriculture Minister Hugo Salvatierra told state television.
Although the US sponsored eradication campaign is still being pursued in the Chapare region, where the coca is said to be mainly sold to cocaine manufacturers, Morales promised only a few months ago, on his election, to find a legal market for the highly nutrional coca plant and it's derivative products. It's too bad our US prohibs can't see that opening up a legal market for the leaf would do far more to eliminate the cocaine trade than all the herbicide bombings in the world.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]


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