Coca Colla: The New ‘Real Thing’ in Bolivia

In Bolivia, you can now buy Coca Colla. (Named after the Colla people of the Bolivian highlands. Any similarty to Coca Cola is purely coincidental. Same for the red label.) Coca Colla is special because it uses the coca leaf, which has been used for thousands of years in the Andes for cooking, medicine and religious rites. Coca, from which cocaine is derived, reduces fatigue, hunger and the effects of altitude sickness.

Bolivia tried to wipe out the leaf at Washington’s behest. But that was before Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian and coca grower, was elected president, championing coca as a crop with legitimate uses.

The socialist government vowed zero tolerance for cocaine but expelled drug enforcement administration agents, accusing them of spying, and encouraged Bolivian companies to use coca to make teas, syrups, toothpaste, liqueurs, sweets and cakes.

It backed Coca Colla from the beginning. “We are seeing how we can give it impetus, because the industrialisation of coca interests us,” the deputy minister of rural development, Victor Hugo Vázquez, told the news agency Efe earlier this year.

If the coca spin-offs work out, the government said the area of land authorised for legal cultivation of the leaf may expand from 12,000 hectares to as much as 20,000 hectares.

Coca Colla: The New ‘Real Thing’ in Bolivia [The Guardian]


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