Speech Morales at the CND

March 11, 2009

evo-morales-coca-un3The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) filmed the speech of the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, at the high level UN meeting in Vienna on March 11, 2009, in which he announced that Bolivia would start the process to remove the coca leaf from the 1961 Single Convention as well as the suspension of the paragraphs of that convention that prohibit the traditional chewing of coca leaf. You can watch the video with English subtitles.

Morales chewed on a coca leaf, while calling for it to be removed from the 1961 Single Convention. “If it’s a drug, then you should throw me in jail,” said Morales, who is himself a coca producer and has been “a consumer for 10 years.”

“Coca leaves aren’t cocaine, they don’t harm your health, don’t have any psychological effects and aren’t addictive,” he told the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, at the start of a two-day meeting in Vienna. Coca leaves have been cultivated in the Andes mountains for 3,000 years and are part of the culture and identity of the people there, Morales said.

He added: "It has no harmful impact, no harmful impact at all in its natural state. It causes no mental disturbances, it does not make people run mad, as some would have us believe, and it does not cause addiction."

He called for their removal from the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, while asking that coca paste be added to the list instead. “As a producer and as president, I have certain responsibilities, I must defend an identity: the coca leaf is sacred,” Morales said, noting that some 10 million people in the Andes chew coca leaves.