¿Qué culpa tiene la coca?

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Yatiri Nieves, a shaman woman from the Andes is offering Coca leafs and tributes like llama foetus and quinoa to Pachamama, Mother Earth.

In Kechua she remembers the myth of coca, “ Coca was a woman before she was a plant; when she died her semi-divine husband, Sinchi Roca , cried so much that a plant grew from where his tears fell, a healing present from Pachamama.” It was named Coca.

Throughout the centuries, in Bolivia, women and the Coca plant have shared the same destiny: discrimination, repression, misunderstanding and finally, at this very moment in history, revaluation. In the Andes no plant is more appreciated and valued by the Indians than coca. It is impossible to imagine the native Indians without their plant and its significance in religion, culture, health and work; it is a powerful symbol of Andean identity and of the indigenous protest against US policies. This uprising has proved so effective that it has changed the face of Bolivian politics. In a society where women are under-estimated they are threatening the status quo.

It is women who have transformed the struggle in Bolivia from isolated individual responses to organized and widespread resistance. It is women who stand up in front of the road blocks. It is women who organized marches and the hunger strikes. It is women, the spirit of Coca, who are restructuring the political landscape.

Mauricio González