“Killer Coke’s” New Competition in Colombia

Look out Coke, Pepsi and Seagram’s. Indigenous campesinos from Western Colombia have a new market for their coca crops: soft drinks.

Nasa Indians approached officials in Bogota to license their new cola, named Coca Sek, for consumer sales, but ministry officials balked at registering the coca leaf-based product.

So the Nasas, who enjoy a partial autonomy, registered the drink themselves.

They are now manufacturing and distributing the cola, to join tea, cookies and wine (with coca included in the ingredients) they already sell.

"The idea is to give [the coca leaf] a new image," says Jairo Pardo Fernandez, who with his six brothers and sisters tends the family’s 60 coca bushes. "People have always looked at coca as something bad, but it also has its good uses."