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Argentina's Indigenous community gives Pope coca leaves

2014-06-09

The Pope welcomed an indigenous group from Argentina to the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. 

Milagro Sala heads the Tupac Amaru neighborhood association, which promotes respect and social rights for marginalized indigenous communities. 

The Pope spoke with her in private and then met with the rest of the group for about 45 minutes. They explained the type of projects they work on, from housing to health, education and assistance for the disabled. 

As a gift, they gave the Pope coca leaves, which they consider to be a sacred plant. Even though some misuse it, she said, they represent wisdom from their elders, who for generations have 'read' the leafs. 

Before heading out, the Pope asked his staff for an image of Our Lady as  gift for the group's president. 

Even though this is the first time they meet at the Vatican, the Pope is no stranger to the group, especially since during his time as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he visited some of the neighborhoods they help out in. 


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