Bolivia Coca Judge Defends Divination Technique

BBC News, March 15, 2012

A Bolivian judge has rejected calls to resign after he admitted “reading” coca leaves to help him make decisions.

Judge Gualberto Cusi—who is from the indigenous Aymara community—said he used the traditional divination technique to help guide his judgement.

But he said he did not let it dictate sentencing.

Coca leaf is a vital element of indigenous culture in Bolivia, and is frequently defended by President Evo Morales.

It has been used in the Andes for thousands of years as a mild stimulant and herbal medicine, as well as a sacrament in religious and shamanic rituals.

It is also the raw material for illegal cocaine.

Gualberto Cusi become a member of Bolivia’s Constitutional Tribunal last year when judges were controversially elected by public vote for the first time.

In an interview on Bolivian television, he admitted “consulting” coca leaves when faced with difficult judicial decisions.


The remarks were criticised by government and opposition politicians.

“I think justice has hit rock-bottom, it is shameful and he should quit,” opposition congressman Roy Moroni told El Deber newspaper.

“We can’t put our trust in people who determine the liberty of individuals by reading coca,” he added.

Judge Cusi later sought to clarify his comments, indicating that he relied on coca for spiritual guidance but did not let it determine the outcome of cases.

“In moments when decisions must be taken, we turn to coca to guide us and show us the way,” he explained.

He added that coca helped him communicate with “plants, animals, mountains and rivers”.

President Evo Morales—who is a former coca grower of indigenous descent—is an outspoken defender of traditional coca use.

Earlier this week he went to Vienna to urge the UN to lift its ban on chewing coca leaf.

Thousands of Bolivians joined a national day of coca-chewing in support of his campaign.

Mr Morales says he is strongly opposed to cocaine production, though the US says Bolivia has not lived up to its responsibilities in the fight against the drug.

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  • WmarkW

    No use appealing to a “higher” court.

  • Oil Can Harry

    He’s still a better judge than Sonia “Wise Latina” Sotomayor.

  • How about you read a book, dummy?

  • anonymous_amren

    Coca leaves ARE cocaine. They are not an ingredient, there is no chemical process used to change harmless coca leaves into cocaine. The leaves are full of cocaine, and all they do is separate it out.

    Bolivia also promoted the use of coca leaves for school lunches. They are completely evil and insane.

    • blight14

       Not hardly, ‘the coca leaf is not cocaine, just as grapes are not wine’……….The coca alkaloid content in coca leaves is negligible: between .25% and .77%,
      which means two things: first, traditional chewing or drinking coca tea
      does not produce the high (euphoria, megalomania) people experience
      with cocaine.
      Second, someone must apply complex chemical processes using any type of
      alcohol/acid base chemicals to the plant in order to transform it and
      obtain a concentration of coca alkaloid that is high enough to produce
      the transformation to cocaine paste and the high associated with

      • anonymous_amren

        What it means is that you didn’t bother to research and just cut and pasted whatever leftist politically correct nonsense it said at the top of Wikipedia. I’m the first person to endorse the scholarly value of wikipedia on any topic that is politically neutral, but not on topics that have importance for the far-left.

        You didn’t even read the body of the article where it states: “The pharmacologically active ingredient of coca is the coca alkaloid, which is found in the amount of about 0.3 to 1.5%, averaging 0.8%, in fresh leaves.”

        Coca leaves ARE cocaine. They are not an ingredient, there is no
        chemical process used to change harmless coca leaves into cocaine. The
        leaves are [0.8%] full of cocaine, and all they do is separate it out.

        • blight14

           I have a BS in chemistry, I can ASSURE you it is a lengthy process to make ‘cocaine’ from the leaves…..I know because I did it in my senior year…..much to the disdain of my adviser… you say the same thing regarding Papaver somniferum(opium poppies)-is that merely an extraction too because there are active alkaloids in the seed pod……..I’ll go ahead and answer that for you, yes, its a lengthy process to make ‘product’ from poppy pods…..the raw opium gum requires even more steps/chemicals(for heroin) than it takes to make cocaine from coca leaves….

  • anonymous_amren

    No, blight14 is not correct. It is the same chemical, giving the same high, just with a slower release and a bulky shape that makes it harder to get a large dose.