Riots complicate dialogue in Bolivia after 12 days of strike

LA PAZ, Bolivia (HPD) — Protesters attacked police after a night of clashes scuppered a meeting to resolve a nearly two-week strike in the province of Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s economic engine, which is demanding a census that would give it larger budget and more seats in the Legislative.

The police reported on Wednesday that they arrested eight young people between the ages of 21 and 34 accused of destroying state property after the police unit in the town of La Guardia, near the city of Santa Cruz, east of La Paz, was stoned. .

The police commander of La Guardia, Edson Rojas, indicated that at least six patrol cars were stoned and their tires punctured. For his part, the Minister of Government, Eduardo Del Castillo, said at a press conference that a patrol even had a firearm impact.

In Bolivia, it is a holiday for All Saints’ Day, but even so, the clashes between sectors that support the strike and those related to the government -which blocked access to the city of Santa Cruz- lasted from Tuesday night and lasted until the early hours of Wednesday.

A group of young people and neighbors sought to lift the blockade to let tanker cars with fuel, which is scarce in Santa Cruz, pass, but the police dispersed them with tear gas.

The conflict prevented a meeting between the government and representatives of Santa Cruz from taking place.

The census, which would redistribute economic resources and seats in the Assembly, was to be carried out this month, but citing logistical problems, the government postponed it by decree until 2024.

The opposition governor of Santa Cruz, Fernando Camacho, and civic leaders have called for it to be done in 2023 and for its results to be applied for the 2025 general elections.

According to analysts, a new census would give Santa Cruz greater legislative representation and would allow it to have more weight in political decisions, but the government of President Luis Arce is seeking to delay the registration process so that the new redistribution of seats does not undermine its political strength in the coming elections. presidential election.

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