LA PAZ – Bolivian police used force on Thursday to remove blockades that drivers from trucking firms demanding tax cuts mounted on busy highways and at a key border crossing.
Deputy Interior Minister Marcelo Elio told reporters that officers restored the flow of traffic at the Tambo Quemado crossing into Chile, where lines of vehicles stretched for 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) on either side of the border.
Tambo Quemado is a crucial transit point for moving cargo from landlocked Bolivia to Pacific ports in northern Chile.
Blockades were also cleared from heavily traveled highways in the central region of Cochabamba and the eastern province of Santa Cruz, the deputy minister said.
Elio threatened to have police seize the license plates of all trucks being used to block roads and said the government would not rule out initiating criminal proceedings against leaders of the trucking industry.
The protest was launched by an association representing 1,200 firms that operate 17,000 trucks.
The association wants more favorable tax treatment for its member companies.
President Evo Morales on Thursday proposed a “truce” with the trucking companies, noting that his government has invited them to take part in a dialogue, but he described as unacceptable their demand for tax changes the administration says would cost the treasury $71 million annually.
“Don’t tell us you don’t want to pay taxes,” the president said. “Regrettably, sometimes the people who have more money want more money and they don’t want to pay taxes.”