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  HOME | Bolivia

Bolivian Police Withdraw Barricades as Disabled Activists Continue Protest

LA PAZ - Bolivian police today withdrew barricades erected to prevent vehicles and pedestrians from entering the Plaza Murillo, although the path where a group of disabled activists, demanding a monthly subsidy of $72, have been camping for two months and half remains closed.

The decision to remove the barricade placed at the entrances of the square was taken by president Evo Morales and his ministers to mark the 207th anniversary of the La Paz revolution against the Spanish, celebrated on Jul. 16.

"We hope that the disabled, out of respect for La Paz, do not harm the city on its anniversary. Plaza Murillo will be open today by taking different securities," president Morales said at a press conference.

All entrances to the square are open except the one where people with disabilities have been camping since April.

Hundreds of disabled people who came to La Paz on foot, on crutches or in wheelchairs after traveling more than 300 kilometers from the city of Cochabamba, camp there to demand state benefits from the government, something rejected by authorities due to budget problems.

At times when the disabled tried to enter the Plaza Murillo to meet with Morales, they were repressed by the police using chemicals and water cannons.

Twenty leaders of the group met with Ombudsman David Tezanos this morning to seek a solution for the conflict.

The disabled activists discussed the possibility of moving to the University of San Andres (UMSA) on the anniversary of La Paz but only if they reach an agreement with Tezanos.

Morales accused the municipalities of La Paz and opposition-controlled Cochabamba of funding demonstrations of the disabled whom he asked not to serve as instruments of the opposition and that they should unite not divide.

He also considered that the attempts to forcibly enter the square to protest are like "a coup" and reiterated that it is not possible to pay the subsidy demands because the government needs to take care of the national economy.

 

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