Argument: Coca chewing fosters social cohesion

Issue Report: Legality of coca production and consumption


Morales called coca chewing a “factor in social cohesion,” enshrining this principle into a newly adopted constitution as of January of 2009. :“Coca yes, Cocaine no?” Drugs and Conflict Debate Papers. 2006: “Social: to maintain social cohesion and cooperation among members of the community, it is used in community ceremonies, as a “payment” for labor exchange and a social relations instrument.

“Coca and Andean Culture – The New Dangers of an Old Debate.” Cultural Survival. 1985: “Coca is also a basic part of mutual aid labor (ayni, minka, and faena – exchange, festive and communal labor). In the festive construction of a house or in rotating agricultural exchange labor, the beneficiary of the labor (the house or plot owner) must provide, among other things, coca. In communal labor projects, it is the community, through its authorities, which must supply the leaf to the workers. Indeed, in some communities such as those of Huarochiri, communal authorities publicly chastise workers who neglect to bring the appropriate paraphernalia, the chuspa and llipti, to the restive or communal work projects. According to Paz, Mamani and Nuñez del Prado, as the leaf becomes more and more restricted, participation in these different forms of work reciprocity has declined considerably. But coca, which many consider the “ethos” of Andean culture, is an informally ritualized form of social contact and an essential element of etiquette, not just as concerns work, but at all levels of Andean reciprocity. As one of Paz’s informants expressed, “…giving coca is dialogue, alliance…it achieves everything…”