Coca farmer protests costing Ucayali some $5.37 million

Protests by coca leaf farmers in Peru’s Ucayali department have cost approximately 15 million soles ($5.37 million) since the farmers began demonstrations on Aug. 14, according to Dotti Flores, the general manager of the Ucayali Chamber of Commerce.

The farmers have blocked the Federico Basadre highway, which has prevented the flow of goods affecting the department’s economy. Construction companies, for example, are lacking cement and iron to advance works, state news agency Andina reported Flores as saying.

The chamber of commerce has offered to mediate talks between the coca growers and government to resolve the protests, Flores said.

Coca farmers in Ucayali’s Padre Abad province are protesting government efforts to eradicate coca crops.

A farmer told CNR news service that they were interested in starting negotiations with the government, however daily El Comercio reported that there is currently little possibility of talks.

“We are for dialogue, but the government doesn’t want to talk,” a protester was reported as saying, while Interior Minister Octavio Salazar said the government would not sit down with farmers until they ended their demonstrations.

Peru’s government has eradicated almost 8,900 hectares of illegal coca leaf plots in Ucayali and Tingo Maria so far this year.

On August 13, the government agency CORAH began eradication efforts in Padre Abad.

Peru is the world’s top producer of coca leaf, the raw material used to make cocaine.

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