weatherford,_jack._cocaine_and_the_economic_deterioration_of_bolivia._pp._154-164_(11)

Weatherford,_jack._cocaine_and_the_economic_deterioration_of_bolivia._pp._154-164_(11)

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Cocaine and the Economic Deterioration of Bolivia Jack Weatherford The demands of the world market have eroded local subsistence economies for centuries. Lands once famled by individual families to meet their own needs now grow sugarcane, cotton, grain, or vegetables for market. Deprived of their access to land, householders must work as day laborers or migrate to cities to find jobs. Villages are denuded of the men, who have gone else- where for work, leaving women to faml and manage the family. The rhythm and structure of daily village life are altered dramatically. In this article, Jack Weatherford describes the impact ofa new world market for cocaine on the . '.--. ..... Hpn p<npr.iallv for Conformity and Conflict. Copyright © 1986 by Jack Weather-
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"They say you Americans can do anything. So, why can't you make your own cocaine and let our children come home from the coca plantations in the Cha- pare?" The Indian woman asked the question with confused resignation. In the silence that followed, I could hear only the rats scurrying around in the thatched roof. We continued shelling corn in the dark. The large house around us had once been home to an extended clan but was now nearly empty. There was no answer to give her. Yet it was becoming increasingly obvi- ous that the traditional Andean system ofproduction and distribution built over thousands of years was now crumbling. Accompanying the destruction of the economic system was a marked distortion of the social and cultural patterns of the Quechua Indians. Since early in Inca history, the village of Pocona where I was working had been a trading village connecting the highlands, which pro- duced potatoes, with the lowlands, which produced coca, a mildly narcotic plant used by the Incas. Over the past decade, however, new market demands from Europe and the United States have warped this system. Now the com- modity is cocaine rather than the coca leaves, and the trade route bypasses the village of Pocona. Bolivian subsistence patterns range from hunting and gathering in the jungle to intensive farming in the highlands, and since Inca times many parts of the country have depended heavily on mining. In the 1980s all of these pat- terns have been disrupted by the Western fad for one particular drug. Adoption ofcocaine as the"drug of choice" by the urban elite of Europe and America has opened up new jungle lands and brought new Indian groups into Western eco- nomic systems. At the same time, the cocaine trade has cut off many commu- nities such as Pocona from their traditional role in the national economy. Denied participation in the legal economy, they have been driven back into a world of barter and renewed isolation. The vagaries of Western consumerism produce extensive and profound ef-
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This note was uploaded on 09/09/2011 for the course ANTHRO 194 taught by Professor Kailakuban during the Fall '09 term at UMass (Amherst).

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Weatherford,_jack._cocaine_and_the_economic_deterioration_of_bolivia._pp._154-164_(11)

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