Bolivia wins coca-chewing victory at UN

Bolivia was re-admitted to the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs Jan. 11—with a special dispensation recognizing the traditional use of coca leaf as legal within its borders, to officially take effect in one month. Official celebrations are planned for the victory in La Paz and Cochabamba next week. Fifteen countries objected to Bolivia’s dispensation—far short of the 62 needed to have blocked it, a third of the 183 signatory states. The dissenting governments were the United States, UK, Russia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Israel and Ireland. An official US statement said the administration continues to believe that coca legalization “will lead to a greater supply of cocaine and increased cocaine trafficking and related crime.”

The 1961 Single Convention stipulated that coca-chewing should be eliminated within 25 years of the convention coming into effect in 1964. Bolivia’s President Evo Morales hailed the new policy as “a great achievement” for the country. (BBC News, ANF, ABI, Jan. 11)