Bolivian farmers and police had a run-in over "illegal" coca markets.

Coca growers demonstrate in La Paz's city to call for the closure of what they claim are new illegal markets.

In La Paz, the nation's capital, clashes between police and the Departmental Association of Coca Producers (ADEPCOCA) have persisted as coca growers call for the closure of what they claim are new illegal coca markets.

"We want to shut down this black market. This ought to be closed down, no matter what it takes since we won't accept any more (coca) markets and will continue to protest, "said a coca producer at the demonstration.

The primary coca market in the city is run by ADEPCOCA, which asserts that it is the only market permitted to trade coca leaves.

Trade in coca leaves

The group has recently opposed Evo Morales, the former president and head of the dominant MAS party, who leads a different coca producers' union in the Chapare location in Cochabamba's central region.

Bolivian legislation permits the sale of coca leaves in certain markets that are overseen by trade associations for coca growers.

The leaders profit from this deal, which is the cause of the conflict.

In Bolivia, the constitution classifies coca as a "sacred leaf" because of the Andean cultural heritage and traditional uses such as chewing and natural medicine, which are widely practiced in the country.

Bolivia is the third-largest producer of cocaine in the world, behind Colombia and Peru, but a considerable portion of coca leaf production is diverted to the drug.

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