Thousands of coca growers march to La Paz to demand closure of unauthorized coca market

Thousands of people from the coca sector have started a march this Wednesday in the direction of the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, to demand the Executive to close a new market in which pro-government sectors commercialize the coca plant.

Approximately 35,000 coca leaf producers are heading to the Government headquarters to demand the eradication of coca leaf cultivation in unauthorized areas, as well as to ask for the release of people who have been arrested during the mobilizations that have taken place in recent months, as reported by the Bolivian agency ABI.

Only hours away from being in La Paz, the leaders of the march have presented an ultimatum to the authorities to which they must respond before 9:00 a.m. (local time) this Thursday.

“They have been given an ultimatum (…) now it is in their (the Government) hands until tomorrow, at around 09.00 hours, if they do not close that sales post (alluding to a post in an unauthorized area in the town of Villa El Carmen), we are not responsible, our brother members are going to take the initiative,” said the president of the Association of Coca Leaf Producers (Adepcoca), Freddy Machicado.

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Nevertheless, the Bolivian Minister of Rural Development and Lands, Remmy González, arrived during the night of Thursday to the municipality of Kalajahuira with the intention of opening spaces for dialogue with the leaders of the march.

“The invitation has been made to the leadership, and they say that they have to consult with the bases, let’s hope that they consult, and if they approve, we are willing,” Gonzalez has informed, according to the cited agency.

“We are open to dialogue, let them consider it. If the bases determine it, let’s generate the conditions. The solution will be based on dialogue”, insisted the minister in the Kalajahuira area.

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The march from Yungas arrived this Wednesday to Urujara, gateway to the city of La Paz.

The conflict has been dragging on since 2017 and in recent months has intensified with violent mobilizations with the detonation of dynamite puppies and other homemade explosives by coca growers of the Machicado line. The neighbors of Villa El Carmen were forced to set up barricades to avoid more violence in the confrontation with the police who are in the middle of the confronting groups.

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