Bolivian highway protests leave La Paz paralysed

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Car Rental News - 29/09/2011


Thousands of protestors have brought La Paz traffic to a standstill.

Traffic in the centre of La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, has been brought to a standstill, as highway protests continue to expand, bringing tens of thousands of people onto the streets. The demonstrators are protesting the building of a highway that will cut through an Amazonian nature reserve.

The government of the South American country insists the road is vital to support development and will boost trade by connecting market towns with remote communities. Indigenous communities, however, are worried the road could lead to the creation of illegal settlements.

The largest labour union in the country called for a protest day on Wednesday. Thousands of people blocked streets in central La Paz.

The demonstrators carried banners protesting against the road and criticising Evo Morales, the Bolivian President. Many of the protestors were questioning the president’s commitment to the rights of indigenous people and protection of the planet, things Evo Morales advocated in his election campaign.

President Morales has temporarily suspended work on the highway pending a referendum. That has done nothing to ease the furore about the road’s construction and the way the government has handled the protests.

On Wednesday, indigenous groups who oppose the road said they will continue their 500km march to the capital. On Sunday, police fired tear gas to break up the march, leading to complaints that security forces had used extreme violence. The police action led to the resignation of the country’s Defence Minister, Cecilia Chacon.

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