"For me to summarize the tropics the coca leaf is a partner in the anti-imperialist struggle. Here in the highlands I would say it is a flame," Morales said as quoted by the government ABI press service Sunday.
Speaking at an event in the province of Chapare, Cochabamba department, the Bolivian leader recalled his childhood in the region making a living out of picking coca leaves.
"Initially I came here with my parents to improve the economic situation, but from here we saw injustice, from here we have lived as victims close to the peasant movement," Morales said.
A member of the Aymara indigenous ethnic group in the Andes and the Altiplano regions, Morales has first worked for and then headed the labour union of the coca leaf growers known as "cocaleros."
The Bolivian leader has made numerous calls to legalize coca as a cultural heritage of the Andes, including by publicly chewing on the coca leaf at a United Nations drug conference in 2009.