Taking the Side of The Coca Farmer

A maverick politician stirs a continent and puts Washington's drug war at risk

To understand why Evo Morales has come within a llama's hair of being President of Bolivia--and why his formidable political power is giving U.S. officials fits--pay attention when he and his top advisers open their mouths. That is, see what they're chewing: coca leaves, treasured by Andean Indians like Morales as a sacred tonic and as their most lucrative cash crop but better known to Americans as the raw material of cocaine. Over the past five years, the U.S. has got Bolivia to uproot almost all of its coca shrubs--only to see Morales, 42, and his left-wing Movement to Socialism engineer...

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