Coca farmers from Yungas region descend on capital La Paz, seizing a leaf market run by pro-government farmers and setting it on fire.
Thousands of coca farmers have marched
into the Bolivian capital of La Paz and set ablaze
what they claimed was an illegal new market for the leaf.
The growers, who marched five days from the Yungas region
north of La Paz, broke through police lines on Thursday and attacked with
dynamite, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails.
No one was
seriously injured in the incident.
The market was established in October 2021 in addition to
two existing wholesale coca markets chartered under Bolivian law
in La Paz and Cochabamba. In those markets, coca quantities and
buyers are regulated.
The country’s politicised coca sector has been in
disagreement over which market in La Paz is legal.
Agustin Mamani, one of the march’s leaders, said the
marchers numbered more than 10,000.
No official crowd estimates
‘Government is responsible’
Esar Apaza, the Indigenous leader of a group demanding the
closure of the new coca market, blamed the government of
President Luis Arce for allowing it to open.
“The government and its ministers are responsible for this,”
The coca leaf has long been grown in the Andes for its
nutritional and medicinal benefits, while also being the raw
material for cocaine.
The coca growers said they would not return to their regions
until the government resolves the conflict.