Coca, the sacred leaf
Still today, the coca leaf is in every Andeans exchange. We can see the farmers “playing” with the coca ball, or going to the mountain with 3 coca leafs in their hand.
In the Titicaca Lake, for example, in the Tequila Island, to greet each other, they switch coca leaves replacing the handshake between the men.
In the Indians mental universe, are 3 worlds in interaction:
One on high, the god’s world; other in the middle, where we live, and the third, the dark world. Between this three worlds the spiritual exchange is permanently and the coca leaf is always there. Without it, the interaction between the three worlds is not possible.
It is also given to the Pacha Mama (Mother’s Earth) in gratitude for one good harvest. The symbolic moments of the human life goes together with a coca’s offering (the death, the marriage, the birth).
This leaves are chewed and chewed, and helped since hundreds of years the Indians of the Andes to withstand the harsh living of the Altiplano and the forced labors of the Spanish conquerors.
Today, it still remains a strong symbolic element with an earthly value of exchange between the mountain and valleys communities, and symbolic with the others worlds.
We can find the leaf coca’s culture mostly in the equatorial and wet tropical zone (between 300 and 2000 m) of the South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil), on the lower slopes of the Andes (the yungas) and the Amazon.
It is scientifically speaking, a stimulant, not a narcotic, non-depended. The coca’s chewing drops sharply caries, increases stamina, reduces hunger and feeds the person who chews. At the nutritional level, 100 gr of Bolivian coca, are sufficient to meet the daily requirement of calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin A and B12.
In 1961, the United Nations inscribed the coca leaf on the list of drugs…And in 1971, the OAS (Organization of American States) has banned its culture, its consummation, its commercialization, and that for sure, its exportation. But the “drug” in question is in fact the cocaine, derived from the coca leaf after a long and complicated chemical process of transformation.
Prohibit he coca leaf is a policy that denies aboriginal rights and culture of the descendants of the Aymaras, Incas and other pre-columbian peoples, to satisfy the political needs of the occident.
Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, has made in the Constitution ratified in January 2009, decriminalization of coca, “cultural heritage of the Andean peoples“.