Tag Archive | Bolivia

New Calls for Resistance across the Amazon*

New Calls for Resistance across the Amazon*

By Manuela Picq

Indigenous women carry the banner of the VIII Pan Amazonian Social Forum (FOSPA) during the opening march from downtown Tarapoto to Universidad San Martin on April 28. Photo: Manuela Picq

 

Ever since European colonial powers started disputing borders on its rivers in the seventeenth century, the vast Amazon rainforest—known simply as Amazonia—has been under siege.

Amazon Peoples always resisted the colonial invasion, even after the borders were ultimately settled with the Amazon rainforest getting divided into the territories of nine states. They’ve had no choice. After all, the insatiable lust for ‘wealth at any cost’ did not lessen with time; the siege continued through the nineteenth century, in part with the rubber boom that gave way to the automobile boom.

The attack rages on even now, with the intensive push to extract everything the Amazon holds including oil, minerals, water, and land for agriculture and soy production.

Nations states are leading the land-grab, fostering environmental conflicts that kill nature defenders (most of them indigenous), displace communities, and destroy rivers for megaprojects. The organization Pastoral da Terra estimates that half a million people are directly affected by territorial conflicts in the Brazilian Amazon. About 90% of Brazilian land conflicts happen in Amazonia; 70% of murders in land conflicts take Amazon lives.

That is why people responded to “the call from the forest,” or “el llamado del bosque” in Spanish. This was the motto of the VIII Pan-Amazonian Social Forum, or Foro Social Pan Amazónico (FOSPA), that just gathered 1500 people in the town of Tarapoto, Peru.

The VIII Pan Amazonian Social Forum in Tarapoto, Peru

Photo: Manuela Picq

 

FOSPA is a regional chapter of the well-established World Social Forum. It is based on the same model that brings together social movements, associations and individuals to find alternatives to global capitalism. From April 28 to May 1, indigenous peoples, activists, and scholars from various parts of Amazonia got together in the campus of Universidad Nacional San Martin.

FOSPA is an important space, not only because the region is at the forefront of the climate crisis but also because it represents 40% of South America and spreads across nine countries—Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana. The 370 indigenous nations in the region are an increasingly smaller part of a booming Amazon population that surpasses 33 million.

This VIII forum was well organized in an Amazon campus with comfortable work space and the shade of mango trees. In the absence of Wi-Fi, participants gathered around fruit juices and Amazon specialties baked in banana leaves at the food fair. The organizing committee, led by Romulo Torres, was most proud of creating the new model of pre-forum. For the first time, there were 11 pre-forums organized in 6 of the 9 Amazon countries to prepare the agendas.

The forum started with a celebratory march through Tarapoto. During three days, participants discussed the challenges of extractive development and land grab across the region. There was in total nine working groups organized around issues such as territoriality, megaprojects, climate change, food sovereignty, cities, education and communication.

During the opening march in defence of Amazonia, Elvira and Domingo, from Ecuador’s Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Amazon (Confeniae) walk along Carlos Perez Guartambel, from the Andean Network of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) and Ecuador’s Confederation of Kichwa Peoples (Ecuarunari). Photo: Manuela Picq

Development is the problem”

Speakers strongly criticized models of development based on extractive industries. “Development is the problem, not the solution,” said Carlos Pérez Guartambel, from the Andean Network of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) and the Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI).

Speakers blamed the political left for being equally invested as the right in extractive development, destroying life in the name of development. Toribia Lero Quishpe, from the CAOI and the Council of Ayllus Markas of the Quillasuyu (CONAMAQ) argued that this investment in capitalist gains corrupted the government of Evo Morales, who licensed over 500 rivers to multinational companies.

Gregorio Mirabal, from the Indigenous Network of the Amazon River Valley (COICA) and Venezuela’s Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (ORPIA) denounced a massive land grab by the state in the Orinoco region. He said the government is licensing land to mining companies from China and Spain to promote “ecological mining.” Indigenous populations, in turn, have not had a single land title recognized in 18 years and are denied rights to prior consultation.

Ongoing French colonization in Amazonia

One of the working groups focused on the decolonization of power; French Guyana being the last standing colonial territory in South America.

Rafael Pindard headed a delegation from the Movement for Decolonization and Social Emancipation (MDES) to generate awareness about Amazon territories that remain under the colonial control of France.

Amazon forests constitute over 90% of French Guyana. Delegates described laws that forbid Indigenous Peoples to fish and hunt on their ancestral territories. They explained the mechanisms of forced assimilation—the French state refuses to recognize the existence of six Indigenous Peoples, claiming that in France there is only one people, the French.

The Women’s Tribunal

The forceful participation of women was one of the forum’s most inspiring aspects. Amazon women held a strong presence in the march, plenary sessions and held a special working group on women.

The highlight was the Tribunal for Justice in Defense of the Rights of Pan-Amazonian and Andean Women. Four judges convened at the end of each day to listen to specific cases of women defenders. They heard individual as well as collective cases. Peruvian delegates presented the case of Maxima Acuña, a water defender from the Andean highlands of Cajamarca who faces death threats. Brazilian representatives from Altamira presented the case of the Movement Xingu Vivo para Sempre, which organizes resistance against the Belo Monte Dam.

The Women’s Tribunal also heard cases from across the continent. Liliam Lopez, from the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), presented the emblematic case of Berta Cáceres, assassinated in 2016 for leading the resistance in defense of rivers. Delegates from Chile presented the case of Lorenza Cayuhan, a Mapuche political prisoner jailed in Arauca for defending territory and forced to give birth handcuffed.

Initiatives

Many working groups called for a paradigm shift to move away from economic approaches that treat nature as a resource. Participants defended indigenous notions of living well, or vivir bien in Spanish.

There were many initiatives presented throughout the gathering. The working group on food sovereignty proposed to recover native produce and exchange seeds, for instance, through seed banks.

Delegates from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) and the organization Terra Mater presented a collaborative project to protect 60 million acres of the mighty Amazon River’s headwaters – the Napo, Pastaza, and Marañon River watersheds in Ecuador and Peru. The Sacred Headwaters project seeks to ban all forms of extractive industries in the watershed and secure legal titles to indigenous territories.

Wrays Pérez, President of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampís Nation (GTAN Wampís) explained practices of indigenous autonomy. The Wampís, who have governed their territories for seven thousand years, have successfully preserved over a million hectares of forests and rivers in Santiago and Morona, Peru. The Wampís Nation designed its own legal statute based on Peruvian and international law, including those protecting the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Amazon communication

Many venues emphasized the importance of Amazon communication. All workshops and plenary sessions were transmitted live through FOSPATV and remain available on FOSPA’s webpage.

Community radios and medias covered the forum and interviewed participants, such as Radio Marañón, Radio La Nave, and Colombia’s Radio Waira Stereo 104 (Indigenous Zonal Organization of the Putumayo OZIP).

Documentary films played in the evenings, followed by discussions. The Brazilian documentary film “Belo Monte: After the Flood” played in Spanish for the first time, followed by a debate with people affected by hydro-dams in the Brazilian and Bolivian Amazons. Other films presented include “Las Damas de Azul”, “La Lagrima de Aceite” y “Labaka.”

The Tarapoto Declaration

The forum closed with the Carta de Tarapoto, a declaration in defense of life containing 24 proposals. The declaration collected the key demands of all working groups. It demands that states respect international indigenous rights and recognize integral territories. It invites communities to fight pervasive corruption attached to megaprojects and suggests communal monitoring to stop land-grabbing.

The declaration stresses the shared concerns and alliances of Amazonian and Andean peoples, explicitly recognizing how the two regions are interrelated and interdependent. It denounces state alliances with mining, oil, and hydroprojects. It defines extractive megaprojects as global capitalism and a racist civilizing project.

It echoes FOSPA’s intergenerational dimension, celebrating elders as a source of historical knowledge to guide the preservation of Amazon lifeways. Youth groups, who had their own working group, demanded that states recognize the rights of nature.

Women concerns are the focus of four points. In addition to making the Women’s Tribunal a permanent feature of FOSPA, the declaration calls for the end of all forms of violence against women and the recognition of women’s invisible labor. It asks for governments to detach from religious norms to follow international women rights.

In closing, the declaration expresses solidarity with peoples who live in situation of conflict, whose territories are invaded, and who are criminalized for defending the rights of nature.

It is in that spirit that the organizing committee decided to hold the next FOSPA in Colombia. Defenders of life are killed weekly despite the peace process, revealing a political process tightly embedded in the licensing of territories to extractive industries like gold mining.

The Colombian Amazon is calling. May it be a powerful wakeup call across and beyond the Amazons.

Source*

Related Topics:

Canadian Company to Construct Brazil’s Largest Open-Pit Gold Mine—in the Heart of the Amazon*

Amazon Groups Fight U.S. Call for Forced Contact with Remote Tribes*

Amazonian Elders Conclude Completion of First Indigenous Medical Encyclopaedia*

The Sahara and the Amazon, a Tale of Interdependence*

Amazonian Hunter-Gatherers Isolated from Western Medicine Have the Most Diverse Microbiome Ever Recorded

EU to investigate Amazon*

Murder in the Amazon

Brazil Signing Away Our Amazonian Legacy

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Bolivian U.N. Ambassador Blasts U.S. for Another Illegal Attack*

Bolivian U.N. Ambassador Blasts U.S. for Another Illegal Attack*

‘The United States has not only unilaterally attacked,’ said Sacha Llorenti, ‘the United States has become that investigator, has become the prosecutor, has become the judge, has become the jury.’

By Lauren McCauley

“I believe that we must absolutely remember these pictures,” said the Bolivian ambassador. “After the invasion there were 1 million deaths and it launched a series of atrocities in that region.” (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

 

Wielding an image of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during his infamous “weapons of mass destruction” speech that helped make the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Sacha Llorenti, the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, blasted the United States for its unilateral military action against Syria saying it is “vital to remember what history teaches us.”

Llorenti, whose country holds a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) and had called the emergency meeting, said that while members of the body were “discussing and demanding the need for an independent and impartial investigation” into Tuesday’s chemical attack on civilians in Idlib, Syria, the United States was “preparing—once again—to carry out a unilateral attack.

“The United States has not only unilaterally attacked,” Llorenti said,

“the United States has become that investigator, has become the prosecutor, has become the judge, has become the jury. Whereas the investigation would have allowed us to establish an in an objective manner who is responsible for the attacks, this is an extreme, extreme violation of international law.”

The reason for the UNSC, he explained, is that it has “developed instruments of international law to precisely prevent a situation where the most powerful attack the weakest with impunity and to ensure a balance in the world.”

Llorenti further observed that throughout history there were “many episodes in which…various powers…have acted unilaterally and violently. But that it happened once again does not mean that the U.N. must accept it.”

“On Wednesday, February 5, 2003, the U.S. Secretary of State came to this room and came to present to us, according to his own words, “convincing proof that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,'” the ambassador said.

Then, holding the image of Powell, Llorenti continued:

“I believe that we must absolutely remember these pictures…We were told that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and this was the motivation for the invasion. After the invasion there were 1 million deaths and it launched a series of atrocities in that region. Could we talk about [the Islamic State] if that invasion had not taken place? Could we talk about the serious and horrendous attacks in various parts of the world if that illegal invasion had not taken place? I believe it is vital to remember what history teaches us.”

Watch below:

For her part, Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the U.N., called the deployment of 59 Tomahawk missiles a “measured step,” and said that the U.S. is “prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary.”

 

Source*

Related Topics:

Media Goes Quiet as Russia Exposes U.S. Lies at Security Council*

Bolivia: Life Exists Beyond the Washington Concensus

Bolivia with Newfound Economic Independence Rejects Rothschild Banks*

Former U.K. Ambassador Refers to the West Returning to their Own Vomit

Inside Syria Life Goes on*

Rothschild Demands Western Nations Invade Syria*

Top Rothschild Bankster Pushes Corrupt Communist to Lead U.N.*

Syria Shoots Down 34 of 59 Cruise Missiles, Russia to Upgrade System*

Cheney, Rothschild, Murdoch Violate International Law By Drilling for Oil in Syria*

U.N. Confirmed Syrian Rebels, Not Assad, Were Using Sarin*

Trump Bombed Syria because they Didn’t Want Peace*

U.S. Deploying Thousands More Ground Troops to Kuwait to Fight in Iraq and Syria*

U.S. Admits Using Radioactive Weapons in Syria that Left Thousands of Iraqi Babies Deformed*

 

Evo Morales Defends Venezuela against ‘Treacherous’ OAS Head*

Evo Morales Defends Venezuela against ‘Treacherous’ OAS Head*

The president accused Almagro of intervening in the political situation in Venezuela in the service of “hegemonic interests.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales has lashed out against Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, OAS, Luis Almagro for “promoting the overthrow” of Venezuela.

In a communique published Friday, the president accused Almagro of intervening in the political situation in Venezuela in the service of “hegemonic interests.”

“The secretary-general’s interventionist and servile actions to hegemonic and extraterritorial interests not only affect the democratic stability of a member country … but also the unity of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.

The criticism comes after Almagro demanded that President Nicolas Maduro hold general elections within 30 days or face suspension from the organization.

Almagro is a vocal supporter of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition. Since taking charge of the OAS in 2015, the Uruguayan politician has used the organization to support the anti-government campaigns of Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez.

His latest attacks against Venezuela have inflamed President Morales who says the secretary-general has acted “without any mandate from member states … with complete treachery and arrogance.”

In response to the threats, Morales has called on fellow member states “to evaluate (Almagro’s) actions with care and objectivity.”

“It is sad and despicable that the secretary-general of the OAS, promotes the overthrow of a constitutionally-elected government. We must defend the rule of law.”

Source*

Related Topics:

Venezuela’s Supreme Court Blocks U.S. Regime Change*

Ecuadorian President Correa on the Final Independence of our Americas*

What I’ve Learnt About US Foreign Policy*

 

Evo’s Bolivia Confiscates ‘Criminal’ U.S. Weapons Cargo*

Evo’s Bolivia Confiscates ‘Criminal’ U.S. Weapons Cargo*

Bolivian police discover a large cargo of military weapons from the United States. | Photo: Ministerio de Gobierno Bolivia

Bolivian police discover a large cargo of military weapons from the United States. | Photo: Ministerio de Gobierno Bolivia

 

The seized weapons were shipped in November 2016 from the Everglades port in Miami.

The National Customs of Bolivia confiscated a large cargo of military weapons from the United States on Friday, launching a criminal investigation of the case.

The seized weapons were shipped in November 2016 from the Everglades port in Miami, HispanTV reports. They entered Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia after being transported through the Dominican Republic, Peru and Chile.

“We must see what was the purpose of this internment in Bolivian territory and who are the members of this criminal organization,” Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero told reporters.

Romero added that he found it “striking” that the cargo passed “so many controls” without being detected. 

The weapons cargo was found in the double bottom of a trailer vehicle. It contained 34 long arms, including rifles and machine guns with telescopic sight, Bolivia’s National Customs reports. Police also discovered 41 pistols and cell phones worth US$46,000.

Romero claims the weapons, produced in Eastern Europe and shipped from the United States, were possibly for “criminal activities linked to drug trafficking.”

Police have since arrested four people, including the driver of the truck and the alleged consignee, but have not disclosed the names of the detainees or the companies, HispanTV adds.

Bolivian President Evo Morales’ administration, considered to be one of Latin America’s most progressive on drug laws, has been a fierce critic of the U.S. war on drugs in the region.

“The fight against drug trafficking is a tool of control for the United States,” Morales said last September.

“The U.S., as the largest consumer of drugs in the world, has no moral authority to dismiss the fight against drug trafficking of other peoples’.”

Last year, former U.S. president Barack Obama claimed Morales’ drug policies “failed to adhere to international counter-narcotics agreements.” Bolivia is currently the only country exempt from a ban on growing coca for medical and traditional purposes.

Prior to Morales’ administration, Santa Cruz was a hotspot for narco-trafficking groups with cocaine operations in neighboring Paraguay and Brazil.

Source*

Related Topics:

Drop in Drug Trafficking Followed Expulsion of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration*

Nixon Advisor Admitted War on Drugs Invented to Crush Anti-War and Black Movements*

Gang Members Implicate U.S. Gov’t in Dumping Crates of Guns in Chicago*

A Fed Set-up: Biggest Mass Shooting in Chicago Since 2014*

As Rothschilds Did to China, the CIA is Drug Running in the Philippines*

Ask Senator McConnell Why the War-on-Drugs was never a ‘War’*

The CIA and the Drug Trade*

U.S. Out to get Morales with Cooked up Drug Charges*

Eight Ex-Military Behind Operation Condor Sentenced to Life*

Eight Ex-Military Behind Operation Condor Sentenced to Life*

 

Many human rights advocates will be disappointed by the court’s failure to sentence 19 other military officials charged in the case.

A court in Rome handed down Tuesday life sentences to eight former military officers from Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay who were found guilty of the forces disappearance and death of about 20 Italian nationals as part of the bloody “Operation Condor” in South America in the 1970s and 1980s.

Only eight of the 27 military officers charged from the four countries received jail time in the high-anticipated sentencing hearing after a lengthy 9-year investigation.

“We are disappointed by the decision,” said Uruguay’s Vice President Raul Sendic, who was present at the hearing. The prosecutor had asked for life sentences for the 27 officers.

The former military men sentenced were Chile’s Hernan Jeronimo Ramirez and Rafael Ahumada Valderrama; Uruguay’s Juan Carlos Blanco; Bolivia’s Luis Garcia Meza and Luis Arce Gomez; and Peru’s Francisco Morales Bermudez, Pedro Richter Prada and German Ruiz Figueroa.

The investigation, opened by Italian attorney Giancarlo Capaldo, initially included 140 people accused of human rights abuses, but the list was eventually whittled down to the 27 who were charged, as many of the accused had died or were found too old to be tried.

When the trial launched on Feb. 12, 2015, the case involved 34 former heads of state, military officials, police and secret services agents and other operatives of military regimes in South America in the 1970s and 1980s.

On Dec. 28, 2016, former president and military dictator of Uruguay from 1982 to 1985, Gregorio Alvarez, died while serving a sentence for human rights abuses carried out during his reign.

The deadly multi-state Operation Condor intelligence operation was designed to destroy opposition to U.S.-backed right-wing regimes in Latin America.

Operation Condor operations are thought to have led to the death or disappearance of 50,000 people throughout Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s.

 

Source*

Related Topics:

Bolivia, Paraguay and Retrieving Our Backyard!

Morales Asks Citizens to Believe in Bolivia, Not U.S. Rule*

The U.S. Interfered In Foreign Presidential Elections 81+ Times from 1946-2000*

Occupy World: Chilean Farmer Wins Case against Monsanto*

Child abduction in Peru – but who are the kidnappers?

Rivers Run Blackened by Big Oil in Peru, which the Indigenous are Left to Clean-up*

Occupy World: Peru Aiming to Dismantle Rothschild’s Media Monopoly*

South America and another U.S Invasion*

TiSA: Uruguay Does Unthinkable, Rejects Global Corporatocracy*

Declassified Docs Detail U.S. Role in Dirty War Horrors of Argentina *

Bolivia with Newfound Economic Independence Rejects Rothschild Banks*

Bolivia with Newfound Economic Independence Rejects Rothschild Banks*

By Whitney Webb

Bolivian president Evo Morales recently announced that Bolivia will no longer respond to pressure or blackmail from the U.S. government or Rothschild-controlled international banking institutions.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and U.S.-dominated World Bank have been major players in the global economic landscape ever since their creation in 1944.These international banking organizations, which are privately controlled by the notorious Rothschild banking family, first pressure nations to deregulate their financial sector, allowing private banks to loot their economies. Once the governments are forced to bail-out their deregulated financial sector, the IMF or World Bank sets up a loan package written in secret by central bankers and finance ministers that undermine their national sovereignty and force them to adopt policies of austerity that harm workers, families, and the environment.

Bolivian president Eco Morales (right)

 

Before Evo Morales assumed the office of president, Bolivia was suffering from the effects of IMF/World Bank-imposed austerity and privatization that exploited its people and resources. It was also South America’s poorest nation. Though the Bolivian people, through strong showings of popular resistance over a period of years, were able to stop some of the worst privatization efforts – particularly the privatization of the nation’s water supply, many of the shackles imposed by these Rothschild-controlled institutions remained. Morales, who became Bolivia’s 80th president in 2006, was the first president to come from Bolivia’s majority indigenous Aymara population and has since focused on poverty reduction and combating the influence of the United States and multinational corporations in Bolivia. Ten years later, Morales, a Democratic socialist, has managed to transform Bolivia into the fastest growing South American economy all while maintaining a balanced budget and slashing its once-crippling government debt.

Bolivia’s newfound economic independence has now empowered Morales to reject the very same institutions that once preyed upon his country. Just a few weeks ago, Morales announced that Bolivia will no longer respond to the demands or blackmail of the United States, the World Bank, or the IMF. During a visit to Tarija in Southern Bolivia, Morales said “Before, in order to obtain credit from the IMF, we were forced to give up a part of our country, but we have liberated ourselves economically and politically and we are no longer dependent on other countries or institutions.” Morales praised social movements and the people’s unity for the country’s ability to resist and reject privatization and foreign influence.

However, Bolivia has done much more under Morales’ leadership than ban international banking cartels from operating within it borders. Bolivia has kicked out numerous multi-corporations since Morales took office, including McDonalds and Coca Cola, while also refusing to cooperate with the US’ disastrous War on Drugs. It is also devotes 14% of its national budget to education, the second most of any country in South America. In contrast, only 1.7% of the national budget goes to education in the US. Morales also forced foreign oil and gas companies to pay an astounding 82% of its profits to the Bolivian government, which is used to fund a variety of popular social programs benefiting the poor. Poverty in Bolivia has dropped significantly as a result. Bolivia’s transformation under Morales proves that any nation, no matter how impoverished, can throw off the shackles imposed by international bankers and return the power to the people.

Source*

Related Topics:

U.S. Tried to Blackmail Morales against Nationalizing Bolivian Oil*

Bolivia Rejects Bill Gates Chicken Donation*

Morales Asks Citizens to Believe in Bolivia, Not U.S. Rule*

Fifteen Years of Community-Controlled Water in Bolivia*

Not in the West: Bolivian Economy Grew $34 Billion in 2014*

Bolivia: Morales Third Term Breaks the Mould of Control by Wealthy Settlers*

Bolivia Revokes Visa Agreement with Israel*

Bolivian Boycott Forces McDonalds out of Business*

Bolivia Bans Partnerships with Multinationals*

Bolivia: Rights of Mother Earth Becomes Legal*

President Putin has Banned Rothschild Family from entering Russian territory “under any circumstances”*

Occupy World: Peru Aiming to Dismantle Rothschild’s Media Monopoly*

Hungary Becomes First European Country to Ban Rothschild Banks*

 

Coca-Cola and Cocaine is Old Business*

Coca-Cola and Cocaine is Old Business*

By Bartow Jerome Elmore

When news broke yesterday about the discovery of $56 million worth of cocaine at a Coca-Cola plant in France, the press was all abuzz. But as it turns out, this Cocaine-Cola connection is not entirely new; Coca-Cola has been intimately linked to domestic manufacture of cocaine in the United States for years.

A little glimpse into Coke’s history reveals all.

Yes, most people know that Coca-Cola’s first president Asa Candler became concerned about cocaine in the early 1900s and decided to remove any trace of the drug in the company’s famous drink, but few people know that Coke continued to use what is called “decocainized coca leaf extract” in its signature beverage. In company ledgers, this―mixed with kola nut powder― is what is known as Merchandise #5, one of the “secret ingredients.”

Here’s how the process works. Beginning in the early 1900s, Coca-Cola partnered with a company called Maywood Chemical Works based in Maywood, New Jersey (now the Stepan Company) to import coca leaves (which contain small quantities of the alkaloid found in purified cocaine powder) from Peru for Coca-Cola. The company removed the cocaine alkaloid from these leaves and then sold Coca-Cola the leftover extract. As per the cocaine, Maywood sold it under close federal supervision for approved medical uses.

Federal law sanctioned this practice. Legislators wrote a special exemption into the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, the Jones-Miller Act of 1922, and subsequent counternarcotics legislation that allowed “decocainized coca leaves or preparations therefrom” to be sold in the United States. Some lawmakers called this clause the “Coca-Cola joker” because it was clearly designed to protect Coke’s secretive coca business.

Over time, Coke’s demand for coca leaves grew so great that legislation had to be passed to allow leaves to come into the country beyond what was needed for the manufacture of cocaine for medicinal purposes. These laws specified that alkaloids extracted from these coca leaves had to be destroyed with federal officials bearing witness.

All was well for Coke for many years under this arrangement, but in the 1960s, the company got a crazy idea: why not grow coca leaves secretly in the United States? That way the company would have a domestic source of supply.

It may sound outlandish, but that’s exactly what happened. In the 1960s, Coca-Cola, working with its partner, the Stepan Company, gained federal approval to begin a secret coca cultivation operation in Hawaii called the “Alakea” project. University of Hawaii scientists agreed to participate in the project but were prohibited from publishing any reports about their work because Coke did not want the public to know about its relationship to these coca leaves.

Within months, those working on Alakea could happily report that coca shrubs were growing in Hawaii, but celebrations lasted only so long. Soon a fungus wiped out the entire crop and the project was abandoned.

The failure of Alakea was really no matter for Coke, which simply continued sourcing leaves from Peru. All of this was channeled through Stepan, a third-party buffer that helped keep Coke’s coca trade out of sight. Import records show that Stepan is still happily bringing in coca leaves in the 2010s.

What’s problematic about all this is that cocaleros, coca farmers in Peru, have been getting a raw deal. For years, Coca-Cola has enjoyed exclusive access to coca leaves coming into the United States and cocaleros have been prohibited from selling other coca products—teas, candies, and flours—to American markets. Coke has no doubt liked it this way because competition for coca leaves would drive up prices, which is never good for business.

But cocaleros see it differently. Peruvians with intimate knowledge of coca production in the Andes told me back in 2012 that coca farmers would love nothing more than to “revalorize” the coca leaf and once and for all quash the misconception that the coca leaf and purified cocaine are the same thing. Then cocaleros might experience a commercial boon that would allow them to abandon exploitative relationships with drug lords and monopolistic buyers.

Today, if I were to travel to Peru and try to return home with a small batch of coca leaves (perhaps to brew tea), I would be detained by border officials.

So here’s the essential question: if Coke can work partnerships to bring coca leaves into the United States, why can’t the rest of us? That’s the real story behind the Cocaine-Cola connection.

Source*

Related Topics:

What is the Harm in Cocoa Leaves!

Coke’s Assault of Destruction

Nixon Advisor Admitted War on Drugs Invented to Crush Anti-War and Black Movements*

Drop in Drug Trafficking Followed Expulsion of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration*