Bolivians clash at protest over anti-drugs military HQ

Bolivia coca leaves producers in La Paz 12 March 2014 Indigenous communities across the Andes chew coca leaves to minimise the effects of the high altitude

Related Stories

Bolivian police have clashed with residents protesting against the construction of an anti-drugs military base in a coca leaves producing region.

Local leaders said most people feared that the increased police presence would lead to violence and abuse.

Regional police chief Johnny Requena blamed drug gangs for the opposition to the base, in the city of Yapacani.

Bolivia is one of the world's main producers of coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine.

The violence happened ahead of a ceremony to lay a cornerstone for the base.

Police fired tear gas canisters at protesters who hurled stones and set up road blocks in attempts to prevent the ceremony going ahead.

The European Union is financing the anti-drugs centre, which is expected to cost $1.3m (£800,000).

Legal coca

Local councillor Max Barrientos told AP that Bolivia's anti-drugs police are abusive and rough up people suspected of trafficking.

Yapacani borders the Chapare coca-producing region and is known as hub for drug trafficking to Europe and Brazil.

The production of a limited amount of coca is allowed in Bolivia.

Indigenous communities traditionally chew the plant and use it in teas as a mild stimulant and to alleviate altitude sickness.

President Evo Morales is a former president of the coca leaf producers union. He has led an international campaign to decriminalise the Andean tradition of chewing coca leaves.

But the government regularly wipes out illegal crops and has programmes to tackle drug trafficking.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Latin America & Caribbean stories


Features & Analysis

  • Signposts showing the US and UK flagsAn ocean apart

    How British misunderstanding of the US is growing

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • Hillary Clinton frowns.Something to hide?

    Hillary's private emails threaten her air of inevitability

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.