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Coca Or Death - Bolivia

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Uploaded on Nov 26, 2007

Oct 2001
Sandra Jordan delves into Bolivia -- a country torn apart by the demands of the West for the coca plant.

On a dusty mountain road out of La Paz, armed troops blockade the only route out of town. They are confronted by an angry crowd of desperate Coca farmers shouting 'Coca or death'. Confronted by tear-gas and rubber bullets, they are trying to get out and join their comrades in the coca growing region deep in the Andes. We investigate why bloody battles have broken out between farmers and armed troops on the streets of La Paz. It seems that it is all for a plant the Bolivian people have traditionally grown and used as a herbal pick me up. The US has been implementing an $85 million dollar 'Dignity Plan' -- in an attempt to substitute the economic reliance on coca production with other industries. But oranges are failing to match the coca leaf profits. According to Bolivia's president his country is booming - the success of the coca substitution plan has attracted massive foreign investment. But the substitution plan has stripped the nation of nearly $300 million a year, leaving many coca-growers jobless and angry. Other groups have joined the cocaleros' uprising in the capital as a result of the Government's privatisation policies. Coca has become a symbol of national resistance. Now some regions of the country are virtual war-zones. The uprisings have blocked most of the mountainous roads that link Bolivia's main cities and connect the country to its neighbours.

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