SPIEGEL: Bolivia is an important narcotics producer. Your predecessors had illegal coca plantations destroyed. Do you intend to do the same thing?
Morales: From our standpoint, coca should be neither destroyed nor completely legalized. Farming should be controlled by the state and by the coca farmers' unions. We have launched an international campaign to legalize coca leaves, and we want the United Nations to remove coca from its list of toxic substances. Scientists proved long ago that coca leaves are not toxic. We decided on a voluntary reduction in the amount of acreage being farmed.
SPIEGEL: But the United States claims that the majority of the coca harvest ends up in the cocaine trade.
Morales: The Americans say all kinds of things. They accuse us of not fulfilling the conditions of their development aid. My pro-capitalist predecessor administrations supported the massacre of coca farmers.More than 800 campesinos died in the war on drugs. The United States is using its war on drugs as an excuse to expand its control over Latin America.
SPIEGEL: The American Drug Enforcement Agency, the DEA, has agents stationed in Bolivia who advise the military and the police in their efforts to combat the drug trade. Will you be sending them home now?
Morales: They're still here, but they are no longer in uniform or armed, as they were before.
SPIEGEL: How is your relationship with the United States? Do you plan to travel to Washington?
Morales: A meeting with (US President) George W. Bush is not planned. I do intend to travel to New York to visit the UN General Assembly. When I was still a member of parliament, the Americans didn't let me into the country. But heads of state don't need a visa to travel to the UN in New York.