Peru: Jungle city paralyzed by coca farmer strike

Area roads have been blocked by protesting coca farmers.

(LIP-jl) (Peru 21) — The beginning of a 48 hour strike called on by the Peruvian jungle city of Tocache’s coca farmers has left the city paralyzed.

According to reports from Peruvian news media, all transportation and commercial activity has ceased in and around the city. Police authorities have tried to clear Tocache’s roads, however continuous efforts by the area’s coca farmers have overwhelmed law enforcement agents.

"We support our farming brothers and sisters. They have always protested by themselves, but now we pledge our support in their cause to have the federal government stop forceful coca plant eradication efforts," declared Tocache’s mayor, David Bazan.

According to the area’s radio station,Ideelerradio, at least 10 people have been injured during the protests.

Reinforcements of 150 police officers will be sent in from Ayacucho later today to help bring peace to the region.

The region’s coca farmers are protesting against the Peruvian government’s forced coca plant eradication efforts, claiming this is their only source of means and survival.

However, Peruvian President Alan Garcia fired back at the protesters by stating that violence and extremism will not be tolerated.

"The government will be firm and proceed with its efforts in forcefully eradicating coca plants since coca farmers are not voluntarily eradicating their crops," commented Garcia.

Garcia added,"The law is what needs to prevail in this situation and the government will not take one step back. These are people who do not abide by rules and thereby put themselves under the suspicion of supplying the drug trade.  They justify their actions in the name of poverty."