LA PAZ – A group of Spanish, Canadian and U.S. tourists have been stranded by roadblocks that political and social organizations have had in place since last weekend in the southwestern Bolivian province of Potosi, police said Tuesday.
The provincial police commander, Col. Mario Hinojosa, told Efe that a number of foreign tourists had to stay in Potosi city because of the protests, which on Tuesday were joined by four national legislators who began a hunger strike in support of the region.
While the general strike began last Saturday, protests started two days previously that brought traffic to a halt in Potosi city.
“The way is completely closed, they don’t even let the police drive around and ambulances can do so just barely,” Hinojosa said, and pointed to the large groups of foreign tourists in the streets and squares of the city.
A Spanish tourist, who did not give her name, told Patria Nueva radio that together with other compatriots she has been five days without being able to leave Potosi city for Argentina, where she has to catch a plane to Madrid.
“We have to go because we have a lot of papers to fill out in Argentina – we’ll miss our flight to Spain if we don’t go. We have to go back, the situation in Potosi has nothing to do with us,” the tourist said.
According to the police report, some 130 vehicles have been stopped on Potosi’s roads since last weekend.
Police are also investigating the suspected death of a 2-year-old baby from dehydration amid the traffic jam on the highway, though Hinojosa said that this news has not yet been confirmed.
The organizations grouped in the Potosi Civic Committee demand solutions to a boundary dispute with the neighboring province of Oruro and to several other regional issues.
The committee demands that the dialogue with the Evo Morales government be held in Potosi and not in another province, as national authorities again suggested on Tuesday. EFE