Government “will not back down” over coca protest

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While around 100 coca growers blockade the Belaunde Highway in Tocache (San Martín) in protest against drug eradication, president Alan García has announced that the law will be upheld even against violent protests. Hundreds of people have been left stranded by the road block.

According to local radio stations, the peasants have blocked the road on both sides of Tocache, between Juanjuí y Tingo María.

The EFE agency further reports, citing a source in the San Martín local government, that the protesters have slashed the tires of vehicles left stranded by the road blocks.

The Tocache coca growers have been protesting since last week, against the eradication of their crops by the Special Project for the Control and Reduction of Coca Plantations (CORAH). A violent confrontation between police and protesters yesterday afternoon left one person injured.

Under pressure from the protests, president García stated that the government will “not back down a single centimetre” in applying the law in Tocache. He said that many peasants have adopted an alternative development program for voluntary eradication and replacement of coca with other crops.

He also warned that other groups with “extremists and violent” ideologies, “and in part allied to terrorism” prefer not to eradicate their coca crops and thus “put themselves under suspicion of producing [coca leaf] purely for cocaine production, arguing that they are poor.”

See also:
Coca growers block the Belaunde highway
Malpartida suggests official register of legal coca growers
Police raid cocaine lab, seize military weapons
“Coca growers no longer believe in Nancy Obregon”
Obregon feels “threatened” by US ambassador

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