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First Ordinary Legislature 2001
33ª A Sesión
Thursday, November 29 2001

The President.- The following motion.

Reading: - Motion of the Day

From Congresspersons Salhuana Cavides, Olaechea García, Jaimes Serkovic, Mena Melgarejo, LLique Ventura, Sánchez Mejía y Almarí Veramendi, parliamentary group Perú Posible; Higuchi Miyagawa, parliamentary group Frente Independiente Moralizador; Figueroa Quintana, de Aprista Parliamentary Cell; and Lescano Ancieta, from parliamentary group Unión Parlamentaria Descentralista (UPP - Somos Perú - Acción Popular), through which they propose that the Congress of the Republic of Peru request the Executive to carry out the steps required with the United Nations so that it proceed towards the withdrawal of article 2 Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention and thereby the consideration of the Coca leaf as a substance subject to oversight and control measures, its classification as a narcotic substance, and the chewing of this leaf as a form of drug abuse." (Moción N.° 785.)

The President.- Congressman Salhuana Cavides may speak now.

Ms SALHUANA CAVIDES (PP).- Mr. President, colleagues, this is a topic which refers to the Coca leaf. In 1961 the Single Convention at Vienna in its article 2 Schedule I, considered the Coca leaf as a substance subject to supervision, that is, that the Coca leaf qualified as a narcotic substance and that picchado (chewing) was considered a form of drug abuse.

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This inclusion in the Vienna Convention has not allowed for this leaf, sacred to the Incas and probably one of the most important genetic mountain and forest resources of Peru, to be used for industrial purposes. That which would allow, for example and according to studies carried out by specialized entities, for its sale as Coca tea bags to the United Sates army as a tranquilizer and source of energy –but above all to soothe their nerves in what is currently a period of international conflagration, thus generating yearly revenues of up to US$500 million; that which is the equivalent of over 5 times the earnings on Peru’s coffee exports without counting the plants other virtues and other products which can be derived from the Coca leaf, namely, soda drinks, medicinal syrups, flours for human and animal consumption, toothpaste and others. In other words, the industrialization potential of the Inca’s sacred leaf is enormous.

Accordingly, Mr. President, this motion proposes that the Congress of the Republic urge, exhort, and ask the Executive to do what is necessary ¾through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs¾ to have said considerations withdrawn from the Vienna Convention as they are offensive to Andean culture, Peruvian culture and to the country at large.

That is all, Mr. President.

Thank you very much.

The President.- We will now consult admission for debate.

Congresspersons in favor will please make this known by raising their hand. Those against, will do likewise. Those who wish to abstain, likewise.

-The voting having been carried out, Motion N.° 785 has been accepted for debate today.

The President.- It is now the turn of congressman Latorre López.

El señor LATORRE LÓPEZ (PP).- Thank you Mr. President.

In fact this motion is extremely interesting. My concern, however, is that Mr. Salhuana Cavides might not know that we have a Bill for industrializing the Coca leaf.

It is a fact that Coca has frequently been satanized but it is not comprehensible that, as of the Vienna Convention, Peru and Bolivia are the only countries which have the privilege of keeping up Coca production under [Empresa Nacional de Coca S.A. (ENACO)] National Coca Enterprise’s control since it is fulfilling a social commercializing role which is at times a bit distorted as, unfortunately, the prices are extremely high in consumption areas, more precisely in the Andean Trapeze.

As a result, I would like to harmonize this concern or motion for when we debate alternative products presided by Ms Susana Higuchi, we could deal with it next week when, for further interest, some producers, peasant leaders will come to discuss the issue. It would be interesting if we could, I repeat, address this motion jointly; together with Mr. Salhuana Cavides.

Thank you, Mr. President.

- Carlos Ferrero Costa reassumes the Presidency.

The President.- Congresswoman Higuchi Miyagawa will now speak.

La señora HIGUCHI MIYAGAWA (FIM).- Thank you kindly.

Mr. President, the Coca leaf has an ancestral thousand-year old tradition, it is the sacred leaf of the Incas. Its use dates back to way before illicit drugs were a problem, a plague in our country and throughout the world.

One cannot classify the Coca leaf as a narcotic, I mean the Coca, the Coca leaf, is not a narcotic, nor can the chewing of Coca be considered drug addiction, as mentioned by congressman Salhuana Cavides, because we would be insulting, we would be denigrating customs which are rooted in our culture, we are reneging our customs and those of our people. The Coca leaf is furthermore used for tea and medicinal purposes. Anesthetics, such as cepacaine silocaine, and others, are made form the sacred leaf of the Incas.

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It is important to gradually eradicate that Coca which is grown for illicit ends, only that which is grown for illicit purposes but not that which is grown by the cocalero peoples who are backed by, and legally sell to, ENACO, as in the case of Bellavista, Bagua, Quillabamba and other Andean peoples who earn their living honestly.

I have had the opportunity to visit many of the cocalera areas on different occasions and tomorrow, as president of this Committee on Alternative Development, I will go to a city currently convulsed and under tension as is Tingo María and I hope to have the time to go to Pucallpa and Aguaytía.

Mr. President, with your approval, I hope to have the required approval to make this trip this weekend and to try to calm the people of this region who are under extreme unrest. This is now true of all cocaleros.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The President.- Congressman Lescano Anchieta may now speak.

LESCANO ANCIETA (UPD).- Mr. President, we are going to back this notion which is of outmost importance and which opens the possibility of having Schedule I of the Vienna Convention regarding the Coca leaf withdrawn.

And, as concerns the observation made by my distinguished colleague, Adolfo Latorre, I believe that there is no opposition to having a Bill and a motion since, similarly to my distinguished colleague and paisano Gustavo Pacheco, it has been requested that it be declared Cultural and Natural Treasure and Heritage through a motion and we have done this through a Bill which has been approved by the Ecology and Environment Committee, and the ambassadors have also made the same request.

Consequently, all of these steps reinforce the path towards a series of measures, Mr. President, and a series of acts which will ultimately be to the benefit of the country.

Accordingly, we agree that our colleague Eduardo Salhuana’s motion should be approved.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The President.- Excuse me, Mr. Chávez Chuchón. You may now speak.

Mr CHÁVEZ CHUCHÓN (UN).- Thank you, Mr. President.

In deed, to call on the honorable members of Congress to back and support this motion since most definitely the Coca leaf is an intrinsic part of our cultural identity.

Mr. President, gentlemen, our ancestors the Incas carried out magnificent works which have been admired by all of humanity having as a contributive organizing element the Coca leaf since in olden times ¾as has been proven¾ the Coca leaf allowed for socializing, increased sensitivity and power; longer working days, more thorough planning strategies and the development of communal affairs, among others.

Today, our Andean communities, inheritors of this way of life from our ancestors, continue perceiving the Coca leaf as a social tie-knitting and unifying element through which they chart their organizations.

And thus it has been shown that the Coca leaf is not hazardous; what’s more, experts such as Hugo Cabieses, have demonstrated that definitely, the Coca leaf is not detrimental; it is not harmful, not damaging.

I therefore believe Congress should decidedly support this motion presented by these parliamentary groups who deserve congratulations, and I consider this the means of acting in accordance with what our country has and the support it also deserves.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The President.- Mr. Congressmen, are we ready?

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Mr Jaimes and Paulina, a minute each, since there seems to be an overwhelming consensus on this issue.

Firstly, Mr. Jaimes.

Mr. JAIMES SERKOVIC (PP).- Yes, precisely, there seems to be a wide concurrence on the matter but there’s something more Mr. President.

I have had the chance of going to Quillabamba and hearing that Congressman Manolo Figueroa had the opportunity to go through college thanks to Coca, something which if mentioned elsewhere, would sound distorted. But, if we are in Quillabamba, we can understand the economic feasibility of Coca when used in a legal framework, as is the case of cultivation and good use of Coca in Quillabamba.

Coca, apart from the excellent qualities which have been attributed to it, has something else: its delicious flavor and beautiful color when made into tea. There is great international demand for the this infusion as of the unique flavor and color of the Coca.

I wanted to add this since the motion being put forward by Congressman Salhuana is a start towards eliminating the Coca leaf from the list of narcotic drugs and towards giving our ancestors the Inca’s sacred plant a place of standing among Peru’s export products; something towards which we, the Alternative development Committee under the presidency of Susana Higuchi and with its working group, have been aiming.

Thank you very much Mr. President.

The President.- It is now Congresswoman Paulina Arpasi’s turn to speak.

Ms ARPASI VELÁSQUEZ (PP).- Mr. President I wish to participate as of my knowledge regarding our peasant brothers who use the Coca for medicinal and labor purposes.

Mr. President and the government’s Ministres first arrive, for example in Puno, and the first thing they do is have a mate de Coca (Coca drink). Coca is good for many things.

I wish to congratulate my fellow congressman, we have to back this motion.

Thank you, Mr. President.


The President.- We will now call the roll so that we may proceed to vote.

-The congresspersons register their attendance electronically so that quorum may be verified.

ThePresident.- The presence of 71 congresspersons has be noted.

We will now vote.

- The congresspersons vote through electronically means.

-After votes are counted, motion N.° 785 is approved by 69 votes in favor, none against and no abstentions.

The President.- Vote in favor of congressmen Pastor Valdivieso y Chávez Chuchón is here noted.

-The text approved is as follows.


*Translated from Spanish by María Mercedes Moreno

Olaechea García molaechea@congreso.gob.pe

Jaimes Serkivicsjaimes@congreso.gob.pe

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