Reclaiming cultural heritage

March 20, 2007 at 3:43 am Leave a comment

Coca plant photo from WikipediaSeems a fracas might be looming between Bolivian farmers, the Bolivian government and one of the world’s biggest brands, Coca-Cola. The coca leaf is part of Bolivia’s cultural heritage and is used in sacred religious ceremonies and as a mild stimulant. The plant’s cultural importance has long been overshadowed by its use as the raw ingredient of cocaine. Though the brand uses the name of the coca leaf in its iconic drink, Coca-Cola, the company has never revealed whether it is one of the secret ingredients. Apparently, the company used to purchase tonnes of coca leaves from Bolivian farmers.

Now Bolivian coca farmers want to reclaim their country’s cultural heritage and force the global brand to change the name of its drink. Bolivia is currently rewriting its constitution and coca farmer representatives advising an assembly involved in the constitutional rewrite passed a resolution calling on Coca-Cola to drop coca from its name and asking the United Nations to decriminalise the coca leaf. You can take the coca out of the plant, but you can’t take the coca away from the Bolivian people.

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Entry filed under: Curiousity.

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