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White Gold Rush in Peru
By Edmundo Morales
228 pp. / 5.50 in x 8.50 in / 1989
Paper (978-0-8165-1159-4) [s]
Related Interest
  - Latin American Studies
  - Anthropology

Cocaine: Much is known about the damage done by this drug in the United States; yet how much is actually known of its impact at its source? Though most processed cocaine comes from Colombia, more
In Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru, Edmundo Morales, a native of Peru now working in durg research for the State of New York, offers a candid behind-the-scenes look at the world of cocaine from the remote Peruvian jungle plots where the coca plant is cultivated, to the primitive laboratories where coca paste and cocaine alkaloid are extracted from coca leaves, and on to the distribution network that moves the cocaine to Columbia, whenice it is shipped to points north. Morales shows how the cocaine trade has come to dominate the economic, political, and social climate of Peru, which is the source of nearly two-thirds of the world coca crop. . . . Morales's study confirms that, for Peru, the cocaine industry is a problem not of drug use and abuse, but of economics. Barring a sharp drop in demande, current proposed anti-coca programs are bound to fail, because what economic force can replace coca?

—Wayne Lutton, National Review

Goes beyond drug mafia stereotypes to provide an in-depth, first-hand look at coca production in the Peruvian Andes. . . . a good resource for anyone concerned with the nuts and bolts of drug cultivation and its firm hold in the Peruvian highlands.

—Washington Report on the Hemisphere

Only when citizens of the U.S. understand how profoundly the drug trade is part of Peruvian society can they understand the difficulty in stopping the problem. This book provides excellent research and background material for arriving at such an understanding.


[Morales] has been able to do something that few others could ever hope to pull off: comprehensive field research from 1981 to 1985 in the coca zones along the frontier of the upper jungle valleys on the eastern slopes of the Andes. The result was his dissertation and then—after a subsequent field visit focused explicitly on the cocaine industry and its impact—this uniquely valuable book.

—Contemporary Sociology

No other single volume . . . does a better job of plumbing the depths of the coca/cocaine tragedy and indicating alternative directions of thought and action.

—Latin American Anthropology Review

than half of the coca paste from which the drug is made originates in the vast jungle slopes shared by Bolivia and Peru. People here have chewed coca leaves for centuries, but only over the last twenty years has coca become a major cash crop. Now it supports local economies, feeds inflation, and affects the social behavior of Peruvians. Edmundo Morales, a Peruvian who is now a drug researcher in the United States, has conducted an extensive study of this underground economy to show how cocaine has changed the social, cultural, economic, and political climate of Peru--and why government efforts are unable to stop it. With statistics on coca agriculture, a description of coca-paste manufacturing, and an examination of the industry's social structure, Morales's book is an inside look at the "white gold rush" that only a Peruvian could have written. It offers a new perspective for understanding a problem that is usually seen only as it affects our own society, and it proposes a new look at policies directed toward its control.

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