Coca strike ends with suspension of eradication

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Agriculture minister Juan José Salazar announced yesterday that coca eradication will be temporarily suspended in
Peru, as he left talks with coca growers in Tocache (San Martín). Eradication will continue only in areas that contain basic laboratories for production of base cocaine from the coca leaf.

“Areas with coca maceration pits are not included in this suspension of eradication as they imply illegal activity,” the minister told the Andina agency, after the talks that led to ten new agreements.

In a statement to the press, Salazar said that the measure comes with a new commitment for an official register of coca plantations, to help separate legal growing from that destined for cocaine production. He added that these agreements will usher in a new phase in conversion to other crops.

He has also started a program to reimburse growers whose crops were eradicated between 2001 and 2007 even though they sold their produce legally to the National Coca Company (Enaco).

Andean Congresswoman and “voice of the coca growers” Nancy Obregón welcomed the agreement, saying that it will help “sort the wheat from the chaff” in terms of distinguishing legal and illegal cultivation. She assured press that the coca growers’ protests in Tocache will disperse within hours.

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