One of my regular pleasures is logging in to a terrific blog entitled ColombiaDiaries. I don’t know Kate personally but, as so often happens with the internet, I feel a kindred spirit with her.
Kate and her family have been exploring the Northern Andes and the Amazon for a long time now, and her witty observations, her excellent photographs, and her compassion for others comes through in all her posts. I’m also privileged that Kate likes this blog, and she occasionally sends me some excellent bits of information that relate to Coca Leaf.
A few days ago she sent me two items that I want to share with my readers – a fantastic European web site called “Amigos Hoja de Coca” (Friends Of The Coca Leaf) which is rich in information and beautifully designed.
Kate also sent a link to a YouTube video of Peruvian Manuel Seminario who tours South America with his ‘Coca-Móvil’ van selling coca leaf products and promoting the coca leaf for food, medicine and ritual purposes. This is a must-watch video! I urge you to take the time to explore all of these links – and thank you Kate!
Your strong support for the indigenous people of Bolivia is well-known, as is your courageous stand against antagonistic outside political forces. You are also respected by millions worldwide for your practical and honest approach to the so-called “drug problem”, and your dedication to economic development and broad economic prosperity. Further, it is well-known that you are working hard to improve the health and quality of life of the Bolivian people.
May I suggest that all of these strengths that you bring to the service of your country can be combined in a way that is uniquely Bolivian and that will bring substantial new economic benefits to your country? I am speaking of the worldwide phenomenon of “Medical Tourism” and a plan for Bolivia to benefit greatly from the willingness of people to travel to wherever they can get the best and least expensive medical treatment for a wide range of diseases and conditions.
The global Medical Tourism market is estimated at $30 Billion as of 2013 and is growing at approximately 17% a year. By far the greatest concentration of Medical Tourism is in Asia, and most Medical Tourists are seeking high-tech medical treatments at low cost in hospital settings.
However, I believe that Bolivia is in a position to develop and capture a new area of Medical Tourism that will be worth many times more to Bolivia than the entire current Medical Tourism market of $30 Billion worldwide. I am speaking of the remarkable healing power of pure, natural Coca Leaf – not Cocaine – and the fact that this healing power is fully documented and validated by hundreds of years of medical and scientific research.
I propose that Bolivia is in a unique position to provide Medical Tourists not with hospital-based services that require expensive medical technology infrastructure but with a network of simple, comfortable, pleasant Spas where people can come from around the world to be given Coca Leaf teas and tonics under medical supervision for conditions that cannot be effectively treated by any other kind of therapy.
Let me offer just one example. In the US alone, approximately $270 Billion is spent annually on Obesity treatments, medications, surgeries, and diets. This $270 Billion is only what is spent on medically-defined obesity. When you take into account the wealth that is spent on simple cosmetic & vanity weight loss, the total is staggering. And this in only what is being spent annually in the US. When you consider that overweight conditions up to and including obesity are a worldwide problem, it is easy to see that expenditures on this one issue alone probably exceed $500 Billion. A large proportion of this spending could be attracted to the network of Bolivian Coca Leaf Spas that I am proposing.
As you know, Coca Leaf has been illegal in most countries for many generations, and there is no need to go into the reasons why this is so. However, as I am sure you also know prior to becoming a banned substance Coca Leaf teas and tonics were in use with great success worldwide as a completely safe, non-addictive, and very effective weight loss treatment.
There is no reason at all why Bolivia, as one of the few countries in the world where Coca Leaf is understood as a great gift of nature and not as an evil drug, could not initiate a nationwide network of Spas for weight loss treatments based on this simple principle. When you consider that people who need to lose 50-100 Kilograms of body weight could do so at such Spas without any risk, and without the unpleasantness of restricted diets and dangerous surgeries, perhaps you will agree that this represents great economic potential for Bolivia.
When you further consider that these Spas would, in many cases, be located at traditional hot springs that are located on land owned by the indigenous people, and that for the most part it is Bolivia’s indigenous people who have the traditions and skills to produce high quality Coca Leaf, it is clear that Bolivia’s indigenous people would be among the greatest beneficiaries of such a program.
And please, Mr. President, note that so far I have only been discussing Coca Leaf Spas as centers for the treatment of body weight problems. As I am sure you and your medical advisors know, Coca Leaf teas and tonics have been proven to effectively and safely treat and cure a wide range of conditions and diseases on which hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually without results and, in many cases, with dangerous side-effects. The same Coca Leaf Spa network that would treat obesity and simple cosmetic weight loss could also treat this extensive range of diseases and conditions.
The potential Medical Tourism market for services that could be offered by a Bolivian network of Coca Leaf Spas includes: Finally Mr. President, may I suggest that a Coca Leaf Spa/Medical Tourism program would offer Bolivia an opportunity to end or at least greatly diminish Bolivian involvement in the international drug trade? Under your leadership the criminal cartels that dominate the illegal drug trade could be offered the opportunity to become minority shareholder/investors in the network of Coca leaf Spas, which I suggest could be majority owned by cooperatives controlled by indigenous peoples. The condition for allowing this investment would be that these cartels turn away from the international drug trade, which brings AT MOST $20-30 Billion a year, and turn their considerable business know-how and innovative energies to assisting indigenous people in operating the Coca leaf Spa network – under close supervision to prevent any abuses on the part of these Cartel members who are accustomed to getting their own way – then they would have an opportunity to make more money than they are currently making risking their lives in armed combat against the forces of the governments of North America and Europe, and they would be able to do so in a safe and entrepreneurial environment.
Is this proposal naïve? Am I deluded about the possibility that the operators of the Cocaine trade could “come in from the cold”? Could I be mistaken to think that Medical Tourists would choose Bolivian Coca Leaf spas over high-tech hospitals in Asia? Perhaps. But then again, perhaps not.
Mr. President, you are a man of vision – that is clear. I urge you to look carefully at this proposal and to consider what could happen if it were not a naïve delusion but instead a practical plan for Bolivia to take advantage of a unique resource for the benefit of both the Bolivian people and of people worldwide who presently are at the mercy of the industrial medical/pharmaceutical complex, with its limited success and unlimited greed.