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Learning English - Words in the News
16 March, 2007 - Published 16:10 GMT
Bolivia proposes ban on the word 'coca'
coca leaves have been used in Bolivia for thousands of years
Bolivian coca farmer

A proposal to ban international companies from using the word 'coca' in their names has been accepted by a panel which is writing a new version of the Bolivian constitution. Such a ban could stop the American giant, Coca Cola, from using its main brand in Bolivia. Our America's reporter, Vladimir Hernandez, has more:

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Farmers in Bolivia have always claimed the coca leaf as part of their country's cultural heritage. But now they're taking steps to protect it in law, as has been done with other well-known regional products - such as champagne in France and parmesan cheese in Italy.

A commission of the coca industry representatives, which is advising the assembly rewriting the Bolivian constitution, has passed a proposal to bar foreign businesses from using the word 'coca' in their branding. Such a move would impede the American soft drink giant, Coca Cola, from selling its products in the South American country.

Bolivian farmers have always insisted that the American firm uses the coca leaf in its drinks - Coca Cola the company has neither admitted nor denied it. Coca Cola has defended its brand in a statement, stressing that the name was protected under Bolivian law.

The proposal follows a drive from President Evo Morales to rescue the image of the coca leaf. It's a mild stimulant that can be the base ingredient of cocaine but it's also commonly used in teas and chewed by workers to distract them from hunger or fatigue. President Morales, a former coca farmer himself, favours the opening of an international market for coca products, such as tea, liquor and even toothpaste, to deter its use in the drug trade.

Listen to the words

cultural heritage
ideas, beliefs and a way of life which are historically related to a particular place

a proposal
an official suggestion or plan which is given to a group or organisation

officially stop, block, prevent

a combination of a product's logo, colour scheme, advertising slogan and package design - things that create a memorable identity to help sales

make difficult, prevent progress

a drive
an effort or strong push to change something

a mild stimulant
something that makes a person a little more alert and energetic than they were previousy, e.g. caffeine found in coffee

the base ingredient
the main thing that is used to make something else

great tiredness, sleepiness, exhaustion

prevent, discourage

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