Pope Francis has drunk a tea made with coca leaves, a main ingredient in cocaine. The pope had the drink aboard the plane en route to Bolivia.
Pope samples tea with Cocaine’s main ingredient
Coca is already banned by the 1961 United Nations convention on narcotic drugs. But coca leaves remained a staple in Bolivia, where Bolivians chew the leaves to get their natural dose of stimulant, just like how Americans drink their everyday coffee. The leaves are also known locally as a natural remedy to some minor ailments. It is also known to suppress hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue.
Pope Francis drank a tea with coca leaves and a mix of chamomile and anise seeds together with journalists aboard the plane going to Bolivia, The Guardian reported. According to a flight attendant, the pope needed the tea in order to overcome altitude sickness before arriving at the El Alto, La Paz airport. The airport is known across the world as the highest international airport located at 4,000 meters above sea level. Its name El Alto means “the high one.”
Indeed, the pope arrived to the destination looking calm and refreshed. He has successfully given his welcoming address.
According to The Guardian, Bolivian president Evo Morales defended the use of coca and continued to plant the leaves himself. He told a 2007 UN general assembly that the coca leaf represents the hope of the Bolivians.
Coca leaves is also used as an ingredient in toothpaste, lotions and shampoo in Bolivia. In 1995, The World Health Organization attested that coca leaves have no “negative health effects.”
Pope’s message to the Bolivians
Upon arriving at El Alto airport, Pope Francis said he would like to invoke peace and prosperity upon all the people of the country.
“As a guest and a pilgrim, I have come to confirm the faith of those who believe in the Risen Christ, so that, during our pilgrimage on earth, we believers may be witnesses of his love, leaven for a better world and co-operators in the building of a more just and fraternal society,” the pope said.
Pope Francis said that he would “encourage the vocation of Christ’s disciples to share the joy of the Gospel to be salt for the earth and light to the world.”
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