<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Coca Growers Take Lima

Nancy Obregón Leads Perú Coca Growers' March, Demands Meeting with Toledo to Stop Forced Eradication

By Itala Ureta
Translated from the daily La Razon, Lima, Perú

April 21, 2003

Peruvian Coca growers’ leader
Nancy Obregón, last February,
in Mérida, México
Photo D.R. 2003 by Jeremy Bigwood
EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2003; LIMA, PERÚ: Approximately two thousand coca growers are walking to the capital city of Lima from the Ene Valley and Apurimac regions (south of the capital). They left from nearby Cañete province Saturday and will arrive in Lima Sunday night. They are demanding an audience with President Alejandro Toledo to press for an end to the forced eradication of coca crops and for the liberation of cocalero leader Nelson Palomino. Palomino is currently in prison in Ayacucho, accused of “defending terrorism.”

The coca farmers will arrive after marching down the Libertadores-Wari highway, which forms the southern part of the Pan-American Highway. They will then join another 2,000 coca farmers from the Ucayali, San Martín and Huánuco provinces (north of the capital), who have been camped out in the nearby Ate-Vitarte district since last summer. Together, they will begin a march to the center of Lima, where, they say, they will stay until their demands are met.

Nancy Obregón heads the mobilization of farmers from the Ene Valley and Apurímac. Since Palomino’s arrest, Obregón, already a major campesino and coca growers’ leader in the country, has essentially become the head of the movement.

During a brief stop on her tireless trek, Obregón told a local radio station that the farmers would tell Toledo that the national agrarian policies must be changed, or they would further radicalize their protests and tactics.

She explained that the cocaleros are not against “alternative development,” but they reject the importation of foreign goods because it hurts their local economy.

She ended her radio address by recognizing her tired comrades on the march. Many of them have become exhausted during what has been called “the march of sacrifice.”

Today, Obregón’s group will join with the farmers from Huánuco, Ucayali and San Martín to enter the capital and lead a huge protest against the unilateral forced eradication of the coca plant.

Webmaster’s Update: El Comercio reports this morning that more than 5,000 farmers have gathered to demonstrate in downtown Lima. The paper also reports that the campesinos threaten to begin a hunger strike if their demands are not met.


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