Between the 1980s and early 2000s, Colombia was notorious for drug trafficking and the cultivation of illegal drugs, primarily Cocaine. The Colombian drug traffickers were the primary suppliers of cocaine in many Unites States cities during the later half of the century and were the lead suppliers for the Miami “crack cocaine epidemic” that killed hundreds of Americans due to overdoses and thousands of Colombians and Americans alike in drug violence.
Every day, millions of people in the Andes use coca like people in North America use coffee; they brew the leaves in hot water to make tea; some chew on the leaves to reenergize at work. For centuries, Andean populations have cherished the health and spiritual benefits of coca. In both uses, coca acts as a mild stimulant––like coffee––that can also suppress hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue, and even relieve symptoms of altitude sickness.