Bolivian farmers set fire to pro-government markets

On Thursday, large swaths of Bolivian coca growers marched in the Bolivian capital, La Paz, and set fire to new leaf markets they said were illegal.

Coca growers hail from the Yungas region of the country, just north of La Paz. The farmers traveled for five days and brought homemade weapons such as Molotov cocktails, dynamites and firecrackers.

Farmers clashed with pro-government farmers on Thursday after crossing roads barricaded by police. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

The so-called illegal lead market was created last year in October. The market was later included in the existing coca markets under Bolivian and Cochabamba law. These markets are heavily regulated. Disputes arose between farmers over which wholesale market was the legal market.

coca leaves

The leader of the marchers, Agustin Mamani, said 10,000 protesters marched alongside him. Although there are no official estimates or confirmation of these figures.

The Bolivian government bears the brunt of the frustration of farmers who blame it for creating a new market. Apaza, the chief of the indigenous tribe said the government should close the market as soon as possible.

Apaza also claims that Bolivian President Luis Arce and his ministers are the real culprits. The protesters also said they would not leave the capital until the government complied with their demands.

It has been four weeks since the protest began and so far there has been no progress in stopping violent attacks near markets.

bolivian president
Bolivian President Luis Acre

For centuries, the coca leaf has been cultivated in the Andean regions for its medicinal and nutritional benefits. The leaves have also been implicated in the production of cocaine.

The country is known for the distribution of hard drugs like cocaine and the government has cracked down on the illegal supply that occurs in the country. Since coca leaves account for a large part of the production of these drugs, it is evident that the government is trying to monitor the market and production closely by establishing government-friendly markets.