Eric Gutierrez analiza el caso de los cocaleros bolivianos y los notables éxitos de su campaña en defensa del derecho a cultivar coca en la escena internacional. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.

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 By Eric Gutierrez

Indigenous peoples and their advocates often find themselves working against the current of national and international institutions. Bolivian cocaleros — mainly indigenous, subsistence communities in the Andes who have grown and used the coca bush for hundreds of years — offer a model for advocates in the indigenous space for pairing advocacy with political identity in the face of Goliath world institutions, like the United Nations.

Most importantly, argues the London School of Economics’ Ursula Durand-Ochoa, Bolivian cocaleros “transformed themselves from producers of [commodity] of questionable legitimacy to defenders of Bolivia’s sovereignty, indigenous cultures, and the historically excluded.”

In June 1998, a group of cocaleros were denied visas to the United States. They were hoping to be heard at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, because their livelihoods were being destroyed and their human rights constantly violated by heavy-handed drug control policy. But because they were stigmatized as criminals, the visa denials and exclusion were deemed justified. The 1998 UNGASS proceeded without the cocaleros.

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