Hugo Chavez: “I chew coca every day”

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said in a speech recently that he chews coca every day, and that his “hook up” is Bolivian president Evo Morales. Chavez reportedly said, “I chew coca every day in the morning… and look how I am,” before showing his bicep to his audience, the Venezuelan National Assembly.

Chewing coca leaves is common, and legal, for indigenous Peruvians and Bolivians, as a stimulant and for easing hunger pangs. In most of the world, coca is most commonly associated with the drug cocaine, which is made from coca. Evo Morales of Bolivia, however, once noted that “coca no es cocaína“-the coca leaf is not cocaine.

But Chavez said that Morales sends him coca paste, which is, according to the Miami Herald article, somewhere between coca leaves and cocaine, and is also highly addictive.

Some are arguing that Chavez’s coca paste admission means that he’s committed a crime:

”’If he is affirming that he consumes coca paste, he is admitting that he is consuming a substance that is illegal in Bolivia as well as Venezuela,’ said Hernán Maldonado, a Bolivian analyst living in Miami. ‘Plus, it’s an accusation that Evo Morales is a narco-trafficker’ for sending him the paste.”

Whole thing here.

More cocaine-related presidential shenanigans here.

More from Gadling on coca here.