Bolivian Coca Farmers Riot in La Paz Market

Bolivian coca leaf growers marched to the country’s main coca market in La Paz after clashing with security authorities.

Disputes between two coca groups have taken place in the Adepcoca Market. A government-loyal bunch and an opposing group argued about who should be controlling the market since the past week. 

Protesters forced dozens of police deployed in front of the market to leave by throwing stones and fireworks at them, despite the officers blasting tear gas on the scene. The clashes caused injuries to some, including two protesters and two members of the police forces. 

The coca leaf growers from the Las Yungas chanted, “Yungas together, we’ll never be defeated,” and took over the market. The group monopolized coca leaf propagation until 2017 when former president Evo Morales legalized the move in the Cochabamba region.

U.N. figures suggested that 90% of Bolivia’s legal coca leaf business amounting up to $173 million annually goes through the Adepcoca market. 

Coca leaf is a major ingredient for producing cocaine but has also been repurposed to aid in religious practices or herbal infusions.

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