I Want Some Coca


Coca leaf tea. photo: nacionalte.com

The indigenous peoples of Colombia say that in the legacy of “Mamma Coca” the shamans spoke to that plant saying, “Any person who has your leaves in their mouth will suffer neither hunger nor thirst.”

I read in some magazine that in 1992 the former president of Bolivia, Jaime Paz Zamora, commented about his desire for coca maté to be consumed in other places outside of his country. He was also said to have requested the World Health Organization conduct a serious study on the chemical composition and properties of the coca leaf.

We already know about the Eurocentric afflictions that these “world” organizations suffer: It takes a long time to take into account proposals from countries that seemingly don’t have much to contribute to Europe’s interests.

It’s not published in the major headlines — perhaps because the big tea transnationals (from Lipton to the Ten Fu Group) would see their profits fall — but coca is full of all kinds of healthy ingredients. It contains certain fats, carbohydrates, alpha and beta carotene; vitamins C, E, B-1 and B-2; potassium, magnesium, sodium, aluminum, barium, iron, niacin (Factor P.P), calcium, zinc and manganese.

I also remember reading somewhere that the number one cause of death in Cuba is from heart disease. But I also read that such illnesses have low incidences among those who chew coca and/or drink coca maté.

Therefore, I began wondering: Why we don’t consume coca here in Cuba (especially keeping in mind the juggling act that we go through day after day for food in this country)?

Maybe those in charge of international trade haven’t found any advantage in negotiating with those countries that produce this plant. The idea of “economic development” seems to make more sense to them if their trade is with nations of the supposed “First World.”

Perhaps someone had that very same idea but they kept quiet for fear of being looked at with the accusing eyes of those who prefer to continue with the coca=drugs vision. “People who consume drugs aren’t worthy of society’s trust,” they charge.

Since I haven’t read anything about the reasons that those who are in charge administering what we Cubans do or do not consume, I tend to think that there’s a certain fear of us falling into the international limelight.

Is it the fear of being accused of being drug consumers, of encouraging the extension of that “scourge of humanity”? Or is it the fear that those of us who live on this island will take advantage of our ingenuity and somehow process the plant?

Perhaps it’s kept out of here for both reasons, though there could be many more. But in any event, all those fears are born of ignorance of this plant – at the cost of us missing out its immense benefits.

Buying it already processed is not the same as growing it, if they are so afraid of it. If we negotiate petroleum with Venezuela, why not negotiate coca with Bolivia?

3 thoughts on “I Want Some Coca

  • Hi! DO you know if the law has changed since Cuba has started helping Bolivia study the plant? Is it illegal to bring coca leaves through customs?

  • In the early years of the Revolution, John, shortly after the Revolutionary Government took over the Coca-Cola bottling plants, the counter-revolutionaries even started a rumor that the government had added mind-altering ingredients into the new Coca-Cola to turn its consumors into communist zombies!

  • The United States in its 50 year war to denigrate and destroy the Cuban revolution has often lied in saying that among other evils the Cubans support terrorism and done little to help in the (counter-productive, failed) U.S. War on Drugs.

    Were Cubans to take up the practice of drinking coca tea and importing the leaves, the U.S. propaganda machine would be soon going at full throttle.

    Expect to read headlines like these:

    ” Cuban Government Drugging Population To Keep them Quiet”
    ” Cuba Aiding Drug Smugglers ”
    ” Cuban Child Prostitutes Plied With Drugs”

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