The New Battle for Coca in Peru
An Interview with Hugo Cabieses
By Jean Friedsky and Luis A. Gómez
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
September 29, 2005
LA PAZ: It has been months now since they returned to the streets, since they’ve been confronting the police and the army. Once again, thousands of Peruvian coca growers have returned to defend their right to live and, of course, to cultivate the sacred leaf. This time, with new allies, the National Federation of Agricultural Producers of the Coca Growing Basins of Peru (CONPACC in its Spanish initials) has gotten at least three regional governments in the country to pass local legislation in favor of the traditional consumption and trade, as well as industrialization, of coca. The debate that these laws have generated across Peru had been going on for months, until Tuesday afternoon the Constitutional Tribunal declared the legislation passed in the Cuzco and Huánuco regions unconstitutional.
This time, your correspondents were preparing to offer you the story, which deserves to be told in all its details. On Tuesday, while the CONPACC was holding its fourth congress in Pampa de La Quinua (a legendary area for having been the site of the last great battle for independence in our América), and while the tribunal made its move, we interviewed Hugo Cabieses, one of the most important Peruvian “cocalogists” and a friend of Narco News.
Cabieses, in a cordial tone and clear words, explained the complexity of this new conflict that, it would seem, should be resolved in the coming weeks. Among other things, he told us of the brilliant speech by Dr. Ricardo Soberón last Friday, September 23, in a hearing at the Constitutional Tribunal, in which he demonstrated the legality of the regional legislation, as well as the holes and contradictions in Peruvian law on the coca leaf. In the interview, Cabieses also gives us a precise description of the type of Peruvian coca that Coca-Cola is buying to fabricate its dark beverage…
In any event, with the tribunal’s decision, the scenario has begun to change in Peru, and we don’t want to waste any time. The Peruvian coca growers—according to statements Tuesday from Elsa Malpartida, one of their leaders—are discussing the “tough measures” they will have to take in the next few weeks in the struggle to defend their right to live, their right to coca. We offer you, in a nearly unedited Spanish audio recording three fragments of this clarifying interview with Hugo Cabieses:
Part 1 (The current situation)
Part 2 (The history of the conflict)
Part 3 (In defense of the coca)
Click here for an English transcript/translation of Cabieses’ comments.
Meanwhile, stay tuned, kind readers, as we will return to Peru in the coming days to find out more about this immediate history…
Lea Ud. el Artículo en Español
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