Written by Gabriel Romano
La Paz, September 20 (EFE).- Alison Spedding, a British academic and professor who has lived in Bolivia for thirty years, as an active member of the Departmental Association of Coca Producers (Edepcoca), claimed independence in an interview with EFE. These are the traditional markets and associated producers who demand that the government not allow any other parallel trade in coca leaves.
The doctor, called because of his academic degree or “gringa”, with the accent he gives in Spanish, participated this Monday in the march of members of Adepkoka to demand the independence of Freddy Machikado, the president of this private entity that resists the operation of a parallel market.
Spedding, as usual for her, wears a skirt that marks the Aymara chola, braids, a hat and an agueo, the typical Andean fabric that is useful for holding some things and that the women wear on their shoulders.
As she speaks, this British woman, who chose to become a coca farmer in Bolivia, shows the green bolus of coca leaves between her teeth that sits on one side of her mouth and serves to curb hunger, a plant revered by the country’s various cultures as a source of energy for those who consume it. .
“I am a member of Adepcoca, I am a grassroots member of the San Bartolomé de Chulumani plant,” he told Efe as several of his colleagues surrounded him.
Link to Bolivia
Spedding, an anthropologist by profession, came to Bolivia in 1980 to do his doctoral thesis precisely on the social structure of coca-growing communities.
He received his permanent residency in 1989 and soon after joined the Regional Association of Coca Producers in La Paz.
The “doctor” recalled that he did not fully understand the coca leaf production process while doing his research, which he achieved when he bought land and started his own cultivation of this plant.
“Since it was compulsory, I had to attend and fulfill whatever social function I did since then. My oldest kokal (coca field) is 31 years old,” he said sympathetically.
Spedding, 60, reported that some of his brothers and his mother are in the UK and lamented the “economic crisis” his country is going through as a result of “Brexit”.
“I don’t regret it at all, I don’t regret coming here,” he said.
This British producer of coca leaves combines this work with teaching at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in La Paz and the State of Literature, as he is the author of several books on the plant, life in prison, gender issues and novels.
According to Spedding, the solution to the coca conflict was for the Luis Arce government to “act according to the law” and “what is just.”
This implies that “the law must be applied to all”, as there are open cases against Machikado and his group for the destruction of the parallel market, the aggression of the Alanes sector, who used bombs in the conflict, should also be investigated. Molotov cocktails and sticks of dynamite, he explained.
Speeding considered that the “lack of regulation of the marketing of coca leaves” had created a “historic drop” in prices, which had not been “seen in years.”
“This is a result of the fact that the government has abolished any organization and regulation of the coca trade in accordance with their own laws,” he stressed.
The tension between the traditional Adepcoca and the Alanes bloc, which received the support of the ruling party, as a key point of the parallel market that it launched a year ago, although Bolivian law only recognizes the operation of one in la. Paz and another in Coochbamba.
Clashes between coca farmers led to the occupation and destruction of a parallel market last week and the subsequent arrest of several Adepcoca leaders, who are now demanding the release of their partners and the market being declared “exclusive”. Selling coca leaves from La Paz. EFE
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