The Sacred Leaf of the Incas

Ancient and sacred. Since time immemorial the cultivation of coca has been part of the tradition and custom of the Andean people. Considered by experts as a highly nutritious plant and with enormous therapeutic potential, reaches our days mired in controversy. its use transcends the mere fact of alleviate feelings of hunger, thirst and fatigue, also transcends multiple dimensions with deep social implications for the Andean man: integrates the individuals with their family, their community, their culture and environment, doing of the plant a true symbol of ethnic identity.

Sacred Lead
A Bit of History

During the Inca empire, the leaf of coca was offered as pay the gods and sacred places or Apus. In view of his sacred character, it was not lawful for the plebeian ones to use the leaf of coca without permission of the Inca or governor.

During the Spanish Colony, the first ecclesiastic Council of Lima (1551) prohibited its use for its relation with pagan ceremonies. Nevertheless, the spanishes changed rapidly of opinion, when they verified that the aborigines were not in conditions to execute the heavy work that were imposed to them in the mines, besides the enormous benefits that its cultivation and commercialization was providing to them.

The French botanist Joseph de Jussieu, in 1750, made ??the first scientific description of the coca leaf. In 1860 the German chemist Albert Niemann, extracted the cocaine and it is a boom in Europe because it is the first anesthetic. In 1883 patents were developed of several products like pills, tea and wine, products that reach commercial success for its energizing properties.

In 1886, an American pharmacist in the city of Atlanta, John Smith Pemberton, creates a stimulant potion based in coca and kola nut. In 1892, Asa Candler, another chemist, purchase the rights and founds the Coca-Cola Company. Years later, are discovered the effects of cocaine, one of 14 alkaloids present in the coca leaf.

In 1949 the government of Peru receives a commission supported by the UNO and the United States ” to investigate the effects of the chewing of the leaf of coca and the possibilities to limit its production and to control its distribution “. The report published in 1950, was totally negative to the use of the leaf of coca, and though the report was an object of severe critiques for its explicit arbitrariness, its imprecision and its racist connotations, criminalized the cocaine and of this form began the process of deslegitimizar the leaf of coca.

On the basis of this report, in 1961, the United Nations were inscribing the leaf of coca in his list of the products considered as drugs.

  Coca Leaf

 Nevertheless, there have been reactions in Peru and Bolivia with regard to the topic, in 1988 it was achieved to recognize to the set of uses applied to the coca for the descendants from the ancient cultures as ” traditional lawful use “, thing that remained registered in the art. 14 inc. 2 of the Convention of the United Nations against the Illicit Traffic of Narcotics. Equally, on December 6, 2005, in Peru he declared himself to the cultural traditional uses of the leaf of coca as cultural immaterial heritage of the nation.

It is not offensive to say that there is much of ignorance in the prohibitions of the use of the leaf of coca. Simply it is a reality that many persons in the world do not know and many of these persons are those who are taking decisions. The utilization of the leaf of coca to elaborate drugs is a phenomenon relatively new and imported from other cultures, and is necessary to be categorical in this: Coca is not a cocaine.