Sunday, April 15, 2007

Peru: "Coca farmers renew protests"

Coca farmers renew protests against government, block roads

Tocache coca farmers are back at it again.

© La Republica
(LIP-jl) -- They are back at it again. Not surprisingly, coca farmers from one of Peru's largest coca growing regions started protests in the wake of the Peruvian government's relaunching of its forced coca plant eradication program.

Showing there discontent with federal government's eradication efforts, coca farmers from Tocache Province (department of San Martin) blocked a 400 meter stretch of the Fernando Belaunde Terry Highway, near the district of Nuevo Progreso, with boulders, logs, and dirt.

"The group of protesters is quite large and their manifestation is seriously impeding traffic from continuing through to their destinations," stated a police officer.

According to law enforcement authorities from the Nuevo Progreso Police Station, the protest began yesterday morning at 8 a.m. and lasted until the afternoon after heavy rain caused much of the protesters to seek cover.

The highway is the main artery which connects the central jungle cities of Tocache with Juanjui, Tarapoto, and Tingo Maria.

Just last month, striking Tocache coca farmers met with government officials to help protect them from forced eradication operations.

After meeting with Peru's Agricultural Minister both parties came to an agreement.

However, just last week Peruvian President Alan Garcia strengthened his position against Peru's war on drugs and called for a dramatic increase in anti-drug operations.

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