September 19, 2017

Bolivia protesters block roads in nationwide unrest

Protesters in La Paz - when the cost of the basics of life keep rising but wages are not, something has got to give.

Protesters in Bolivia have blocked main roads and clashed with police, as nationwide demonstrations against the government enter their tenth day.

The biggest clashes happened 45km south of Bolivia’s main city, La Paz, with around 2,000 teachers using rocks to block the main road to the rest of the country.

Police used tear gas to clear the road, but protesters fought back with stones and slingshots. Several people were reported injured.

Teachers and health workers are on strike to demand a 15% pay increase.

There have also been street protests and road blockades in cities across Bolivia, including Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Tarija.

The portests are the owrst since January when people took to the streets to force a government backdown over the removal of petrol price subsidies.

In recent months the people have experienced shortages of some basic commodities like sugar, and have suffered rising food prices and transport costs.

This is easily the worst unrest facing the presidency of Evo Morales, who before coming to power used the same protest methods himself.

The protests are being led by Bolivia’s main trade union federation, the COB, which is demanding a 15% pay rise for all workers.

It is ironic that President Morales is a former union leader, and some of his government ministers are former leaders of the COB.

When people are struggling to feed themselves and inflation is seeing their buying power evaporate, then all they have left is to protest.

There is a very real prospect that the Morales government may be grought down, but it is unlikely that a new regime is going to be any better for the people in the short term.