support of the decriminalization of the coca leaf. Mr. Morales justified his position in a speech at the United Nations where he brought the green coca leaf to the assembly and stated that the leaf is not only harmless but has medicinal purposes as well as being part of traditional ceremonies of the Bolivian people. It is the white coca leaf that is detrimental and can be used to make cocaine. To bolster his argument Mr. Morales uses a scientific study made in the United States at Harvard University. Mr. Morales also asked the UN General Assembly "Why is the coca leaf illegal for the Bolivian people yet perfectly legal for use by the Coca Cola company?" Upon becoming President Mr. Morales immediately raised the minimum wage and cut his own salary by 50%. He has nationalized the country's natural gas industry, which is a very bold move at a time when this commodity's demand has risen
to record breaking heights. He has also given Bolivian control to many, if not most
international businesses in Bolivia without forcing any foreign entity to leave the country. Mr. Morales invited not only those from US businesses, but those from around the world to come to Bolivia for commerce but "as partners, not as bosses".
Mr. Morales also shows himself to be a man with a great sense of humor when he tells the story of how the United States' ambassador told the Bolivian people NOT to vote for Mr. Morales: because if they did international business support for Bolivia will decline. Mr. Morales says with a grin "Since my election international relations are better than they have ever been." Mr. Morales also speaks of the racial discrimination that was rampant in his country during previous administrations when he talks of how his mother (an indigenous person) was not allowed to be in the vicinity of the "Feria de Santa Cruz". Now the president of Bolivia IS an indigenous person who will not permit this type of racism to endure.
It would be beneficial to all US citizens to see this interview just to get another perspective because the Bush administration is already actively working to overthrow the Morales government. Evo Morales has the characteristics I would like to see in politicians here in the United States "Independence, Honesty and a genuine commitment to the people".