LA PAZ – Residents from a central Bolivian town blocked the country’s principal east-west highway in a conflict over municipal territorial limits.
The demonstrators live in the municipality of Colomi, which is in conflict with the neighboring town of Villa Tunari, both of which are located in Cochabamba province.
Police used tear gas and fired buckshot on Wednesday at protesters blocking the roadway, a move that left four civilians and two police officers injured, according to media reports.
Colomi residents responded to the police intervention by hurling sticks and stones and, according to reports on Erbol Radio, the highway remains blocked.
A delegation from the Cochabamba provincial government traveled to the scene on Tuesday evening, but the Colomi townspeople demanded that Gov. Ivan Canelas, Justice Minister Virginia Velasco and Villa Tunari Mayor Asterio Romero come and meet with them.
The territorial conflict between Colomi and Villa Tunari is not new, with Colomi demanding a change in the town boundaries because some of its neighborhoods are being linked to the adjacent town, a situation that affects the allocation of state resources to the community.
In November 2012, Colomi residents blocked the same highway to demand changes in the map during the census that was to be carried out in the following days.
On that occasion, the protesters attacked 51 police officers, sending 18 of them to the hospital.
Land disputes between municipalities or districts are regular occurrences in Bolivia, given that in 2012 just 30 municipalities out of the country’s 339 had fully delineated their territorial limits.