Multiculture, Our People

Bolivian Foreign Minister in London and the indigenous people

David Choquehuanca is giving a talk “Indigenous Peoples Cultural Rights” on the 15th of October. During the talk the minister will defend the rights of his country’s natives and argue in favour of the decriminalisation of chewing the coco leaf in its natural state.

David Choquehuanca.

Since ancient times the “pijcheo”, or “aculliku”, has been a part of the cultural traditions of the indigenous people who inhabit the Andean regions. The chewing of coca leaf is a thousand-year-old tradition which is still practiced to this day due to them being attributed with medical and health benefits.

These indigenous people and the Bolivian government defend the fact that the coca leaf – which can be subsequently used to make cocaine – is not a drug in its original state and is not damaging to health in the traditional way that these people use it.

It is estimated that millions of people in Bolivia practise “aculliku”.

Evo Morales, the Bolivian President, has defended on numerous occasions before the United Nations the decriminalisation of the use of the plant in these instances, as it is currently considered a narcotic and banned by the UN.

Bolivia last year withdrew from the UN Single Convention of Drugs. However, the government is now hoping for a re-admission to the same convention but with a proviso that the consumption of the plant is permitted.

The Bolivian Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, will cover all this in his address on “Indigenous Peoples Cultural Rights”.

During this he will deal with the decriminalisation of the use of the coca leaf, the fundamental role of the Andean people in the conservation of the Quinoa (as 2013 will mark the ‘International Year of Quinoa’), the relations between the United Kingdom and Bolivia, as well as the celebration of the forthcoming International Assembly of Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia.

The conference will take place on the 15th of October at 11 am at Canning House, 2 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PJ.

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(Translated by Rory Mulloy)

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