Bolivian Coca Growers Erupt in Protest against New Plantation Law
EspañolBolivian police intervened on Los Yungas coca growers Monday who were protesting a bill in the country’s National Assembly.
The demonstration began as a vigil last Friday, but over the weekend protests intensified and leaders did not allow pedestrians or vehicles to pass the Plaza Murillo.
The Bolivian government presented a coca leaf bill at the start of this year that would legalize 20,000 hectares of land for the growing of coca leaves. That extra land allows for 8,000 hectares more than is currently legal, which negatively affects Yungas coca production.
Local authorities tried to intervene with water and gas first, but the coca growers endured, regrouped and announced that they were planning to radicalize.
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Minister Carlos Romero spoke out in disapproval of the demonstration, saying that they had requested an investigation into those that had thrown objects at cars and destroyed other private property.
Romero said the demands of the Yungas have indeed been met and that the government guaranteed them they would treat their heritage of growing coca respectfully — most notably in the form of tax exemptions for commercial coca.
The minister said it was unacceptable for production in traditional areas to be unlimited as — a political measure that would prevent collision with markets in Cochabama.
Minister of Rural Development César Cocarico invited the protesters to to a dialogue that has not yet taken place despite their demands to speak with President Morales.
General Police commander Abel de la Barra attempted to enable access to the square without success, and all eight entrances still remain closed.
Source: El Deber