Bolivia passed a controversial measure on Wednesday to expand production of coca, the raw material for cocaine. Leftist president Evo Morales dismissed warnings that an increase in coca crops would fuel the illegal drug trade.
Pope Francis greeted Bolivia with a message of inclusion, a central theme of his three-nation tour to his home continent, as he arrived in South America's poorest nation. Landing in La Paz early in the evening, thousands of faithful -- many of whom had spent a chilly night outdoors waiting for him -- welcomed the pope as choirs sang in the indigenous Aymara language.
Coca planters will be giving Pope Francis a pie and other goods made out of coca leaves, when he arrives next July for an official visit to Bolivia. The gifts will be delivered during the scheduled meeting of Francis wish social movements’ organization in Santa Cruz, according to the organizers.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon got an unusual treat for his 70th birthday when the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, presented him with a cake made with coca leaves. The UN chief was in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for a meeting this weekend of the G77 group of countries to discuss measures for reducing poverty.
Bolivia will again belong to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs after its bid to rejoin with a reservation that it does not accept the treaty’s requirement that “coca leaf chewing must be banned” was successful Friday. Opponents needed one-third of the 184 signatory countries to object, but fell far, far short despite objections by the US and the International Narcotics Control Board.