Bishops praise Bolivians who seize drug-trafficking plane at airstrip
Bishops in Bolivia’s Amazon region praised residents of a small town who seized a light plane, apparently owned by drug traffickers, that had violated their ban on landing at the local airstrip.
“Drug trafficking in Bolivia is widespread, and this situation has made that clear,” Bishop Eugenio Coter of Riberalta, who heads the Pan-Amazonian Church Network in Bolivia, told Catholic News Service. “It indicates that drug traffickers have control of small communities.”
In March, Bolivia imposed a strict lockdown to control the coronavirus pandemic. To help avoid contagion, residents of Bella Vista, a town of about 5,000 people near the Brazilian border, prohibited light planes from landing on the local airstrip.
When drug traffickers defied the ban, residents blocked the runway with wire fencing. The flights continued, so on 18th June, a crowd marched to the airstrip, seized a light plane and rolled it to the mayor’s office in the town plaza, demanding that local officials take action.
Anti-drug police later arrived to take charge of the plane and investigate. Witnesses said they detained and took away the person who was working as watchman in the airstrip hangar, but officials later denied having arrested anyone.
That indicates that police and prosecutors are not taking the case seriously, Bishop Coter said.
Picture: A file photo shows an indigenous woman holding up coca leaves in La Paz, Bolivia. (CNS photo/Gaston Brito, Reuters).