March 12 - Coca farmers defend what they call the ''sacred leaf'' which has been banned by the Vienna Convention for links to cocaine. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
In defense of the coca leaf. Coca farmers and users band together in Bolivia in defense of what they call the sacred leaf -- which has been banned by the Vienna Convention for links to cocaine. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BENITA QUISPE, COCA FARMER, SAYING: "This is nutritious for the poor people. It is medicinal for us. This sacred leaf is so beautiful." In La Paz they crowded the streets. The demonstration came on the day that the nation's President, Evo Morales, was speaking in defense of coca at a United Nations anti-drugs convention in Vienna. They displayed the many uses of the coca leaf, including soft drinks. A chef displays an assortment of uses for coca. Bolivians have chewed the leaves for centuries as a mild stimulant that reduces hunger and altitude sickness. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters