BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:11 A.M.) – Bolivian President Evo Morales has raised the bar for legal coca cultivation from 12,000 to 22,000 hectares, overriding the anti-drug legislation pushed forward by the US in late 1980s, RT reported.
The law is believed to bring back coca leaf chewing that is historically prevalent in Bolivian culture.
The new legislation is to effectively repeal the law “On the regime applicable to coca and controlled substances” commonly referred as the Law No. 1008 that dates back to 1988, the report continued.
The law is to protect Bolivian customs and culture.
“It’s time to bury the 1008 law in Bolivia. It’s a historic day!” Morales, who himself was a coca farmer and is a leader of coca farmers’ union in Chapare region, said, labeling the proponents of the old bill as “traitors” as cited by TeleSur.
Morales, however, called on his supporters to brace themselves for the “ideological struggle,” which “is going to be permanent.”
Bolivia is the third largest producer of the coca leaf, only behind Colombia and Peru.
He also brushed off the international criticism of the coca-friendly policy, arguing that it is aimed at dividing the nation.
“This ideology of division is characteristic of imperialism: Divide and reign,” he said, according to TeleSur.
He went on to stress that consumption of coca is mentioned in Bolivian books dating back as far as 15th century, arguing that as a long-standing tradition it does not pose any harm to people and accusing Europe of “demonizing” the plant to disrupt the practice.
“We are not from the culture of cocaine,” Morales said, as cited by Prensa Latina.