Indigenous Rights in the Andes and Licit Uses of the Coca Leaf

09 December 2008 - Event
09 December 2008


Pien Metaal

Some Andean governments and the region’s indigenous groups have sought to distinguish clearly between coca, a plant long used by indigenous peoples for health, religious and cultural purposes, and cocaine, an illicit drug. Yet both coca and cocaine have the same status in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
The Bolivian government’s aim of declassifying coca as a narcotic drug under the UN Conventions has sparked significant international debate. This seminar brings together distinguished experts to analyze the role of the coca leaf in indigenous cultures, scientific studies of its health and nutrition-related attributes, and international conventions and declarations related to anti-drug efforts and indigenous rights. Panel One: The International Debate on the Coca Leaf and Indigenous Cultures Moderator: Catherine Allen, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University Pien Metaal, Researcher specializing in coca issues, Drugs and Democracy Program, Transnational Institute Anthony Henman, Anthropologist and Author of Mama Coca Ramiro Matos, Curator, National Museum of the American Indian, The Smithsonian Institution Panel Two: Perspectives from Bolivia and Colombia Moderator: Coletta Youngers, Senior Fellow, Washington Office on Latin America Dionisio Nuñez, Yungas coca grower leader, Former Member of Congress for the /Movimiento al Socialismo/ (MAS), Bolivia Jaime Arias, Colombian indigenous leader and representative on the Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Organization of American States (OAS) Ambassador Reynaldo Cuadros, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the OAS Some of the presentations will be made in Spanish; simultaneous interpretation will be available. The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs Linder Family Commons, Room 602 1957 E Street, NW Washington, DC (Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro, Blue and Orange lines)