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Bolivians petition the U.N. to end cocoa leaf-chewing ban

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports: Steeped, chewed, or set alight in a ritual: the coca leaf has been used for millennia in the Andes for medicinal and sacred purposes. The rest of the world, however, sees it as the source plant for the illegal narcotic cocaine.

Which explains why (as reported by the AP) the U.S. will file a formal objection today to Bolivia’s proposal, according to a senior U.S. government official.

Juan Karita / AP

An indigenous woman chews coca leaves outside the U.S. embassy inaugurating the national day of coca leaf-chewing in La Paz, Bolivia, on Jan. 26. Bolivia has petitioned the U.N. to end an international ban on coca leaf-chewing. A mild stimulant, the leaves have deep cultural and religious value in the region. The U.S. will file a formal objection today to Bolivia?s proposal, according to a senior U.S. government official.

Gaston Brito / Reuters

A coca grower dries coca leaves during a "Dia Nacional del Pijcheo de hoja de Coca" (National Coca Leaf Chewing Day) rally to promote the chewing of coca leaves and its industrialization in front of the U.S. embassy in La Paz January 26, 2011. Bolivia is the third largest producer of coca leaves in the world, local media reported.

Juan Karita / AP

Indigenous gather in front of the U.S. embassy to inaugurate the national day of coca leaf-chewing in La Paz, Bolivia, on Jan. 26.

Read RNW's full report here.