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Chile’s Student Rebels: Views From The Trenches

Chile’s Student Rebels: Views From The Trenches
Radio Toma, loosely translated as “Occupation Radio,” broadcasts non-stop information about the protests being staged in front of the University of Chile’s main building – literally a stone’s throw away from the Presidential Palace of La Moneda. Since June 10, students have occupied the beautiful neoclassical 19th Century campus as the protests have continued to intensify around their one demand – to dismantle the market-based approach of the Chilean educational system, something they have scornfully come to label “Pinochet’s education.”
“We just distrust the political class,” one of the students in front of Radio Toma told me. But even when the political establishment tried to discredit their protests, students’ responses turned out to be well-organized. They are fully cognizant of their role in trying to overhaul not only the educational system, but the tense democratic framework put in place by the Pinochet regime as well.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow, Ph.D. Student in Economics, and Panamanian Journalist Eloy Fisher.
To read the full article, click here .
Tradition Trumps the Treaty: Bolivia Repeals its Ban on Coca
On June 29, 2011, Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Aymara Indian president, withdrew his country from the United Nation’s (UN) 1961 Vienna Convention on Narcotic Drugs. His decision was based on the fact that the Convention contradicted Bolivia´s 2009 Constitution, which aims to repeal the current ban on coca chewing, a long held tradition in Bolivia. This bold move puts indigenous rights in the limelight and underlines the anachronistic and discriminatory nature of the 1961 Convention, as well as the need to revisit this treaty in order to create a more appropriate international law directed towards coca chewing.
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs
The UN’s 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs based its views on coca leaf prohibition on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf prepared by ECOSOC (United Nation’s Economic and Social Council) in 1950. This report was “sharply criticized for its poor methodology, racist connotations, and cultural insensitivity.” For example, it claims that coca chewing leads to a lack of productivity in the work environment because indigenous coca chewing communities in Lucre had a poorer job “performance” when compared with non-coca chewing regions. The report did not exactly specify how performance was measured, or even whether coca chewing was actually the cause of this lack of productivity. The document simply assumed that coca chewing was the cause of the decline in performance. Although Bolivia did not originally ratify the Convention, it later did so under the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer in 1976. The Convention merely went on to urge countries to prohibit the use of “Schedule IV” drugs—a category reserved for the most dangerous drugs, such as cannabis and heroin. Meanwhile, coca leaves were only designated to the supposedly less dangerous “Schedule I” category, although it is believed that they would eventually become prohibited. This designation, due to the traditional classification of coca leaf chewing under Article 49 allowed coca to be decriminalized in restricted areas for a maximum of 25 years after the convention was ratified. Bolivia signed the convention in 1976, thus making coca leaf chewing legal until 2001.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Natalia Cote-Muñoz.
To read the full article, click here

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