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2011-05-14 | Documentos de Trabajo | Indoamericano


For an International Conference on the Coca plant

The campaign calls upon the Swedish Government not to block Bolivia's request to hold an International Conference on the Coca plant.

The Indigenous Movement in Bolivia supports the Bolivian Government's campaign to revise the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (UNSCND of 1961) that classifies the Coca plant as an illegal substance.

Since 1961, the Coca leaf is on the UN list of substances classified as narcotics. 25 years after the ratification of the Convention (1976) Bolivia seeks to change the article that requires connected States to prohibit the Coca plant. Bolivia's new Constitution recognizes the Coca leaf as a natural resource of great social importance thus Bolivians want for UNSCND to legalize the coca leaves.

The Coca plant and the leaf has been used in the Andes for thousands of years, both in ceremonies and as natural medicines, especially among the Andean Peoples -quechua and aymara- among whom it is considered sacred and is used in rituals.

Bolivia's president Evo Morales leads the campaign to legalize the use of Coca leaf and to get the United Nations to write off the Coca plant from the list of banned drugs. According to president Morales, the Coca leaf itself is not cocaine; it is people that make it into cocaine. Coca leaf is part of the culture and it is neither dangerous nor addictive-the Coca leaf contains roughly 0.5% cocaine. He says that normalization would involve respect for Bolivia's traditions.

From the Bolivian Government's point of view, this Convention criminalizes the cultures that use the Coca leaf and thus constitutes a violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. To ban the Coca leaf would be a historical mistake.

The Convention can only be changed through consensus; it takes only one single country to block this. For a substance to be removed from the drug list would require at least two years of investigations and votes. When the UN receives protests against a proposal, UN has two choices: to accept the proposal at once or to hold an international conference where the issue is discussed. According to the Bolivian Government the ban of the Coca plant is based on incorrect information and therefore they want to hold an International Conference. United States, England and the Swedish Governments have set themselves against such a discussion. United States and United Kingdom is blocking Bolivia's attempt to get the UN to remove the Coca leaf from the UN Convention on banned drugs. Sweden has sided with the United States in this matter.

The Swedish Health Minister Maria Larsson (CD) believe that Bolivia's proposal to legalize Coca leaves will lead to a more far-reaching liberalization of drugs. According to the Minister such a precedent will give signals that do not comply with the measures taken in the fight against drug trafficking and drug use. Public Health Minister Larsson means that Sweden cannot accept the proposed amendment because it would bring forth a debate not only concerning the Coca leaf, but a lot of other issues as well.

Bolivia's main argument refers to everyone's right to their culture and identity; i.e. the Coca leaf has a great significance for the Indigenous Peoples of the Andes; and to classify the Coca leaf as narcotics is an attack against the ILO Convention on indigenous rights (1991) and against the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). Sweden determines that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is subordinate to the UN Drugs Convention. By doing so Sweden cannot accept the proposed amendment. Sweden says no to coca leaf.

The Scandinavian Forum for Indigenous Peoples Rights, support the Bolivia campaign that aims to remove the Coca plant and the Coca leaf from UN Convention on Drugs, the UNSCND's list of banned drugs. The campaign calls upon the Swedish Government not to block Bolivia's request to hold an International Conference on the Coca plant.

• We agree with the Bolivian Government´s statement that cocaine trafficking should be combated and that the cultivation of the Coca plant should be controlled, but that does not mean that the use of the Coca leaf in its pure form must be abandoned.

• The Bolivian State has strong restrictions on how much Coca you may cultivate per household in order to ensure that the Coca leaf is only used for traditional purposes and not to produce cocaine. According to studies 14% of Bolivia's population is using the plant in the traditional sense and that there are 12,000 hectares of legal Coca plantations.

• We urge the United States, England and Sweden's Governments to leave behind colonial attitudes and instead respect and show respect for Bolivia's traditions and the status that the Coca leaf has in the new Bolivian Constitution.

• We call on the Swedish Government to comply with the Bolivian Government's example to implement ILO Convention 169 of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights in the constitution.

Jorge Calbucura
Lilian Mikaelsson
Spokespersons for Scandinavian Forum for Indigenous Peoples Right

If you want to sign this letter: click here

Fuente: Scandinavian Forum for Indigenous Peoples Rights



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