Coca Mama

Coca, a medicinal plant, has been in continous use as far back as we can record Andean culture, at least 4,000 years. Historical record has shown that the coca plant, which has been cultivated since time immemorial, has always been omnipresent in the indigenous universe and that it has not only enriched their ancestral traditions but symbolized their vigorous resistance to colonial domination and subjection.

In contrast with alcohol and tobacco consumption, the traditional use of coca in its manifold forms is not and never has been a form of drug addiction, but a natural indigenous custom which it is possible to give up without producing any narcotic syndrome. No one can claim, in the absence of scientific proof to the contrary, that the Quechua and Aymara Indians, particularly in Peru and Bolivia, who have been chewing the sacred leaf of their ancestors since time immemorial, have ever become drug addicts.

It was the colonial Dutch chemists that invented the reduction into paste and eventual production of cocaine. It’s the capitalist get rich quick mafia types that are raking in the dough, cocaine addiction is a white man’s disease. Same story for the opium that colonialists turned into life ruining heroine or sugar cane refined to diabetes causing white sugar. The traditional organic whole plants and humans have co-evolved, co-existed for millinia, we have the metabolic tools to use these gifts from the Great Mother. But when these traditional plants are refined and concentrated by the industrial madmen our defenses are over run, the results disasterous.

Is Coca is a good thing? Good and bad are values that we humans attach to things for convience. These names we use to define and divide aren’t real, coca simply is. We’ve so divorced ourselves from the ‘real’ that we allow ourselves to believe in simple perjoritive tags instead. ‘Mother Coca’ has much to teach about itself and ourselves too.

BOLIVIA: Coca, Poverty and Hope by Diana Cariboni and Franz Chávez
Just about any crop can be grown in the heart of Bolivia's fertile Yungas region, say local farmers. But only coca has prospered. And although it is the only crop that brings anything close to a living income, local campesinos are still steeped in poverty. Coca has been grown since time immemorial in these forest-covered mountains that were once controlled by the Aymara kingdoms from the highlands.