Peru declares state of emergency in Amazon


SCENES FROM PERU'S COCA WAR: Drug enforcement police set a torch to a cocaine laboratory in southeast Peru, on Aug. 21, 2010.


Carlos Mandujano

Peru declared a state of emergency in parts of the Amazon where coca growers have been striking to protest the forced eradication of their crop.

It is the first time in his 47 days in office that President Ollanta Humala has used the emergency measure, which gives the police more power to make arrests and suspends some constitutional rights, reports EFE. The state of emergency is set to last 60 days.

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Coca growers began an indefinite strike on Sunday and blocked a major highway that connects the Ucayali department with the rest of the country. The strike is a response to the government's policy of forced eradication of coca leaves, the main ingredient in cocaine.

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Humala's government temporarily suspended the eradication of coca last month, but vowed to the United States to resume the program.

The decree says the state of emergency is necessary to ensure the proper functioning of basic services and the supply of food and medicine during the strike.

Peru is the largest producer of coca worldwide, according to the United Nations.

The decree applies to the districts of Cholon, Monzon, and Leoncio Prado.

Read more: Peru suspends coca eradication

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