Bolivia's Morales on re-election to helm of coca growers' union: 'Death to the Yankees!'
Evo Morales has long fought to decriminalize the practice of chewing coca leaves, which the U.N. has banned for decades.
July 10th, 2012
04:35 PM ET

Bolivia's Morales on re-election to helm of coca growers' union: 'Death to the Yankees!'

Bolivia's Evo Morales has been re-elected.

Some of you may be asking, "Weren't the country's elections in 2009?" Yes, they were. That's not at all what we're talking about.

It was reported Monday by several Hispanic news outlets - including Los Tiempos, La Razon and La Rioja (excuse the Google Translate pages, but you get the idea) - that the Bolivian president once again has been elected to helm the union for coca leaf producers in the nation.

Coca, as in the precursor plant for cocaine.

Those of you familiar with Morales are aware of his fondness for the crop. You might even remember the time he gave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a charango, an Andean instrument similar to a ukelele, inlaid with leaves from the plant ... which must have made for spirited discussion when she came back through U.S. Customs.

Those of you familiar with Bolivia are aware that many indigenous folks there have been known to employ the plant for purposes unrelated to Scarface Delight. The plant has been used for thousands of years in the Andes, and not merely as a stimulant. It's also a medicine that can reportedly relieve altitude sickness and pain or suppress appetite if you chew the leaves, a custom known as "acullico."

Morales has long fought to decriminalize acullico, which the U.N. has banned for decades because the leaves contain the alkaloid necessary to make cocaine.

Then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strums an Andean instrument inlaid with coca leaves in 2006.

This may have been on Morales' mind when he ended Sunday's acceptance speech with a phrase in the native language of Quechua: "Causachun coca! Huañuchun Yankees!" It means "Long live, coca! Death to the Yankees!"

It sounds pretty crazy coming from an elected head of state, but it's more a rallying cry than something to be taken literally. Coca growers, including Morales himself, have used the phrase for years.

Morales has been head of the union, known as the Coordinating Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba, since 1996. While he may at times seem hostile to Western efforts to clamp down on coca production, his acceptance speech seemed more sympathetic to global concerns.

He thanked the coca growers amassed in Cochabamba for re-electing him and urged them to strive for stronger regulation of the coca leaf. According to the BBC, he reminded them that individual cultivation was limited to a 40-by-40-meter garden per household and that growing coca in national parks or on protected land is prohibited, as is growing the plant outside the areas designated for cultivation.

"There cannot be zero coca, but nor can there be unregulated cultivation of coca. You know, brothers, that a portion is diverted into drug-trafficking," Morales said, according to the BBC.

With Bolivia ranking behind only Colombia and then Peru as the world's top cocaine producers, CNN would like to remind its readers that "a portion" could constitute anything between .01% and 99.9%.

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Filed under: Bolivia • Drugs • United Nations • World
soundoff (261 Responses)
  1. markiejoe

    That man REALLY needs a new wig.

    July 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. TheZel

    obviously a Red Sox fan.

    July 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JJ

    Thats one ugly dude....

    July 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Dan

    "CNN would like to remind it's readers that a portion could mean anything from 0.01% to 99.9%." Dan would like to remind CNN that stupid comments like that are the reason so many people now get their news from sites that recognize the small amount of intelligence possessed by their readers. Seriously, CNN. You could do much better.

    July 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike D

    I assume these 'Yankees' he hates are responsible for that awful hairpiece.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Stan

    I'm with Morales. GO SOX!!!

    July 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Yakobi

    Yet another narco-communist leader in South American. No wonder he and Hugo Chavez get along famously.

    Where are the CIA hit squads when you need them???

    July 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Yep

    This article is ridiculous. It's not like the Bolivians can choose between growing coca or working at a Red Lobster. Bolivia isn't America, these farmers aren't given food stamps to go buy their Cheetos at Walmart. Surprise, they're ACTUALLY POOR – you know, that thing where people have to make a choice between feeding their families and actions they disagree with. They don't like what happens with the coca but at least they're not starving to death.

    July 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bolivian

      This farmers are not fighting taking over private lands,convents ,natioanl parks to plant potaoes,cofee etc, they want coca because it makes money lots of it
      We are only 7 million Bolivians in the 4th in size in the Americas ,it is cocaine that and th encouragement of Morales he was elected with their money.
      He is the head of a cartel he was elected President with their money he was allready the President of Coca farmers.
      If anybody can go into his region the Chapare without being killed[not police or army are permite'] will see the huge homes with their own satelliete dishes,luxury cars.
      It is serious and not a formality. He is a comunist that follows Mao
      Bolivians do not hate or dislike Americans it is Morales his vice President that was in prision for marxist terrorist that killed when assaulting to rob $ US 5 million that was never found
      Morales tried to get rid of the Catholic Church he had the Cardinal home bombed, now churches are fuller that ever
      He is a dangerous man,he is destroying Bolivia.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Miam1C

      Coca leaves have been harvested and used (not abused!) in the Andes for a couple of thousnad years as a paliative for aches and pains, and it is part of the highlands culture to chew them throughout the day. Why not grow it as they always have? They're not the ones making and snorting cocaine and fighting over it, thats an American condition.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pred3

    We have any Agent Orange left in some forgot stockpile at Alkali Lake?

    July 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Don't be an ugly American.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Just Saying

    The hair!!!!! I don't know whose "do" is better Trumps or Morales.....lmao lmao lmao lmao

    July 12, 2012 at 5:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Criolla

    He has been the Head for years, he was reelected, he is a narco dictador that duing his dictorship more that 100 Bolivians are dead, more than 500 are in exile. He permits indigenous justice where a person can be tortued,killed.
    There is censorship persecution oponents are in prision with no trials
    Almost 90% we have voted agains coca farming
    coca farners have taken over private lands destroying coffee fruts to plant coca
    Thousand of indigenous have marched twice from the Amazon jungle for 3 months to La Paz to stop a freeway that will go trhough the amazons to unite Brasi to the center of cocaine
    When a Bolivian American arrives at the airport one has to show a Bolivian birth certificate if one has a USA passport if one has children traveling born in the US it is almost $300
    Carte, Penn.Stone Del Toro are supporters of the Dictator that hates the USA,Bolivians whites , mestizos catholic church, women in that order
    Morales is a narco
    The mayority of Bolivians we do not chew the coca it is use for cocaine with the protecction of Morales

    July 12, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. cdgfla

    Dear President Morales, I love your national product and hope you nationalize production to beef up your US imports. It would definately be more cost effective for us that love your...leaves.

    You, Mr. President, export a product people actually want to have, is loads of fun, and keeps you thin...whereas we give the world Wal-Marts, McDonalds, and Burger Kings.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amanda

      You are very irresponsable, drugs kill , I work in a maternity department, if you would see and hear newborns addicted like the mothers cry non stop, going trhough withdrawl, we give them to some methadone and chemo to heal there tiny liver,you think cocaine is fun?
      Morales is worse than a terrorist ,he wants to destroy America and people like you are willing soldiers obeying him.
      Morales in his country has destroyes freedom,liberty, he is is turning Bolivia into a Sudan ,Cambodia.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • cdgfla

      Amanda, unless you are giving me an 8 ball, shhhhhhhh.

      I am not addicted to S, I just enjoy an occassional tooter. I also didn't pass it on to any kids, and aren't suffering from Meth withdrawals as I do not do Crystal Meth. None of your post makes sense, so please, lets get a mirror and party like its 1986 at the Whisky in LA.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. cdgfla

    I wonder who would win in a hair contest, Morales or Blago from Chicago. Both have no forehead, just eyebrows and a hairline right above them. I'm going with Morales simply due to the fact he's Mexican...Wait..no...Bolivian, sorry, and he's jacked on Cocaine all day. He must spend hours fixing his hair and grinding his teeth to look that fantastic.

    July 12, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Frank

    Time for a few CIA "CLEANERS" to visit Bolivia me thinks...

    July 12, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. NorCalMojo

    Death to Bolivians!

    July 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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