Newsbrief: Bolivian Coca Growers Call for Referendum on Legal Coca 8/6/04

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In the wake of a referendum last month on natural gas that was widely praised as an example of functioning democracy in action, some Bolivian coca growers are calling for a similar referendum to legalize coca, the plant from which cocaine is derived. According to the Cochabamba newspaper Los Tiempos, the Special Federation of Peasant Workers of the Tropico of Cochabamba, the local coca growers' union, called for a referendum on legalizing the plant "to restore dignity to the ancient leaf."

Delegates meeting at the federation's eighteenth annual conference also once again named Evo Morales, head of the Movement to Socialism (MAS), as leader of their movement.

"As we have already begun to utilize the referendum process, now we want to use this mechanism for coca because the North American embassy and the government of our country don't want us to have our coca," said Silvia Lazarte, the coca grower who led the congress. "Our coca production is legal, and thus, the delegates have indicated very clearly that there should be a referendum and that the people decide about coca.

Lazarte added that federation members were confident such a measure would pass if put directly to the voters. "Long live the coca leaf!" she exclaimed. "Long live the referendum process!"

Among other actions taken by the more than 2,000 delegates, the federation called on the government to hand over resources dedicated to alternative development directly to the communities involved and for the demilitarization of the region. The federation also called for a series of "coca fairs" to promote the traditional indigenous crop.

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Issue #349, 8/6/04 Medical Marijuana Victory in Detroit | Supreme Court to Fast Track Effort to End Federal Sentencing Chaos | Massachusetts Needle Exchange Activists Hold Day of Protest, Demand Action from Legislature | Newsbrief: Defendant Can Post Pictures of Narcotics Agents in Info Search, Federal Court Says | Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Wins Legal Victory, Still Alive | Newsbrief: Justice Department Backs Off on Plan to Destroy Library Asset Forfeiture Pamphlets | Newsbrief: Israeli Soldiers to Get Cannabis Therapy for Stress? | Newsbrief: Marijuana Charges Down 30% in Canada | Newsbrief: California Narc Indicted in Rudy Cardenas Killing | Newsbrief: Federal Prosecutors in Seattle Use Patriot Act in Marijuana Case | Newsbrief: Bolivian Coca Growers Call for Referendum on Legal Coca | Newsbrief: Highway Travel Advisory -- South Dakota/Sturgis Rally | Press Release: Students for Sensible Drug Policy Activists to Take "Skate for Justice" Through New York State Tomorrow (8/7) | Media Scan: Peter Moskos in the Baltimore Sun | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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