Best columns: International
Let farmers grow more coca leaf
The expansion of coca planting in Bolivia is long overdue, said La Razón. The infamous Law 1008, passed at the behest of the U.S. in 1988, severely limited Bolivian farmers’ ability to grow the traditional crop, which people here chew or use in teas to combat altitude sickness. The unjust law equated coca leaf with the processed cocaine that Americans were snorting in vast quantities. In classic colonialist fashion, the U.S. war on drug traffickers became a Bolivian “war against coca cultivation, against the farmers.” The punitive restrictions were maintained through two decades of right-wing governments and even a full decade under our leftist President Evo Morales, himself a former coca farmer who rose to power pledging to abolish the law. Finally, he has made good. Morales recently signed a law nearly doubling the size of the country’s authorized coca plantation zones, from 30,000 acres to 55,000 acres. The new law simply legalizes what has been going on all along: In 2015, the United Nations found that Bolivian farmers had planted some 50,000 acres of coca, nearly all of which has gone to the local market, for rituals and infusions. Andes residents have chewed coca leaf for centuries. We should never have allowed foreigners to tell us what to do with our own farmland.
Why the world is heading Down Under
The Sydney Morning Herald
It’s been quite a month for VIP visits to Australia, said Peter Hartcher. The country has hosted not only Benjamin Netanyahu—the first serving Israeli prime minister ever to set foot here—but also the head of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority state, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. The latter is only the fourth Indonesian leader to visit Australia in the 72-year history of his country, “even though the distance from Indonesia to Australia at its closest is only a quarter the distance from Sydney to Melbourne.” Both Netanyahu and Widodo had their own reasons for making the trip, but there is a wider context to their visits: global uncertainty.
Like the leaders of many other countries, they’re alarmed by the apparent breakdown in the global order. “Russia is increasingly aggressive, China coercive, Britain pointless, Europe unpredictable, and the U.S. unreliable.” Iran and Saudi Arabia are vying for “ascendancy in the Middle East.” Global trade has stalled, and President Trump “threatens to clog growth routes further.” Nations are desperate for stable allies to team up with and sell stuff to. It’s a tumultuous time, and “when the earth starts to shudder, you grab any support you can find to keep your balance.” The result? Australia “has never been so popular.”