Indian Country Today reports that Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced on July 7 that he has withdrawn his country from a United Nations treaty that bans chewing coca leaf.
Coca leaf can be processed into cocaine, but it is also an important part of Andean culture. In Bolivia, the leaf has been chewed to relieve hunger and thirst and used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. A limited amount of coca leaf is legally planted in the country for traditional use.
Bolivia stated to the U.N. that there is a “need to guarantee respect for the human rights of indigenous peoples, and all who chew coca as a traditional cultural practice.”
The International Narcotics Control Board, which monitors government compliance with drug treaties, released a statement expressing regret at Bolivia’s denunciation of the Convention.