State Condoleezza Rice gets an illegal drug as a gift during her trip to Chile from Bolivia's new democratically elected president Evo Morales!

Rice, leader of Bolivia, discuss coca

Anne Gearan Associated Press Mar. 12, 2006 12:00 AM

VALPARAISO, Chile - Cooperation against illegal drugs was one theme of a cordial first meeting between the top American diplomat and the coca-growers union boss who is Bolivia's new democratically elected president, but Bolivian leader Evo Morales used the session to send another message to Washington.

Morales gave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a traditional Bolivian Indian musical instrument called a charango that resembles a ukulele and is usually made from animal hide.

This one, however, was covered with coca leaves.

Coca is the raw material for cocaine but also has traditional uses in Bolivia, where the leaf is brewed as tea, chewed and incorporated into ceremonies.

The gift was a reminder that coca is legal in Bolivia.

Rice gamely strummed the instrument and posed with it for a Chilean television camera. It's not clear whether Rice can legally bring the instrument into the United States.

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