IT'S NOT EASY TO TALK ABOUT THE COCA LEAF
−from the bottom up−
Nancy Obregon Peralta
Sub secretary National Confederation of
Peru’s Agricultural Cocalero Producers (Conpaccp)
Good afternoon Firstly, I would like to thank the
organizers of this event, Mama Coca, for allowing me to be here with you and
also the valuable opportunity to hear our compañeros
and tell them that for us, Coca-leaf producers, it is not easy to talk
about anti-drug policies, policies of war against drugs, talk about subversion
because they have always labeled us as the initiators of subversion, as the
promoters of war. And I want to mention something to you, that that mentality
has been adopted as of North American government spheres which the only thing
it has tried is to make us believe -Latinos, Europeans and our compañeros from
the North American people, that the Coca leaf is bad and that we Coca leaf
producers are delinquents; that the Latin American peasants have no other
option because we are lazy. But I want
to mention something to you, we want an opportunity to be the hope of
With these words, I want to commence my brief
exposition regarding the Coca leaf topic in my country. Maybe you have heard of
the different marches, strikes, mobilizations and the past March of Sacrifice
that we carried out in the city of
I want to tell you that unfortunately being a producer, being a peasant these years and in this century, is a sin. At this same moment, our maximum leader, Nelson Palomino Laserna, is still imprisoned, accused of terrorism, narcotics trafficking and other attributes given to him by the government. Today they rectified what they said and they said that he is not a terrorist, that he is not a narcotics trafficker, and I worry that there might be other companions in Bolivia that have been put into prison the same way.
Where does it come from, this political persecution against the cocalero leaders and the peasants who attempt to rise up against an imperialist mentality? Unfortunately, we thought that we were coming to the great capital Lima to rescue and revalorize our sacred Coca leaf and we did not notice that we had to rescue our President Toledo's mentality because he was becoming a prisoner of his own conscience, because he was receiving orders from the highest level and we are going to say the whole, from the highest level of the North American government. This is the way in which I myself and my Peruvian companions − mostly peasants− think. Maybe this is why our companion Nelson is imprisoned. I'm not scared of prison, what I am scared of is that we continue keeping quiet year after year and allowing a very large monster to continue trying to monopolize and trying to hold our governments -Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and other countries- as puppets.
This is why we are in this World Social Forum hearing the issues of the conferences, of the wars, of each one of these excellent speakers' participation. I am not a great professional, simply a peasant, but the university of life has taught me that I should speak with the whole truth. My tongue has no holding back; I speak with my heart and with my thought, with my whole body because this is the daily life of all humble peasants who the only thing they are asking for is a chance.
Translated from Spanish by MM Moreno,
Mama Coca www.mamacoca.org
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