LA PAZ, Bolivia (HPD) — The lack of fuel marked the eighth consecutive day of a strike Saturday in the province of Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s economic engine and opposition stronghold, after the failure the day before of an attempt at dialogue on the date of a population census.
The gasoline and diesel stations registered long lines of cars and motorcycles in search of fuel, showed images from the Red Uno television station.
The state company Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales de Bolivia said in a press release that “the supply to ambulances and basic services will be prioritized, so that they can respond to the call of the population.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Suppliers (Asosur) of Santa Cruz declared a state of emergency and pointed out that 99% of service stations no longer have fuel, while in rural areas 85% have shortages.
Attempts at dialogue have not prospered. The day before, President Luis Arce and more than 300 authorities in the country—with the exception of the opposition governor of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho—met in search of a consensus on the date of the census, which Santa Cruz demands to achieve a new distribution of national income. The province is the most populous and seeks greater legislative representation that allows it more weight in the country’s political decisions.
The government proposed that the date of the census be decided by a technical commission, which was rejected by the leaders of Santa Cruz.
The strike, of indefinite duration, began because the census was scheduled for November but the government postponed it by decree for technical and logistical reasons until 2024.
The death of a protester and the clashes have complicated a solution to the conflict. In turn, unions close to the government have blocked the entry of food and fuel to Santa Cruz.
The region, which produces 70% of the food consumed by the country, demands that the results of the census take effect in the presidential elections of 2025.
For analysts, a new registration will also allow purging the electoral roll that unleashed the serious political crisis of 2019.
In Bolivia, a strong polarization has remained latent since that year, when the presidential elections were denounced as fraudulent by the Organization of American States, which triggered a social explosion that left 37 dead and forced the resignation of then-president Evo Morales.