LA PAZ – Thousands of Bolivians marched on Thursday from the city of El Alto to neighboring La Paz to demand justice for the death of a student in an earlier protest.
The death of the young man, which took place on May 24 as a result of police action during a protest to demand more funds for El Alto Public University (UPEA), sparked a series of demonstrations across Bolivia.
Thursday’s demonstration was attended by members of several organizations and unions that support a proposal from the UPEA to reform a tax law to increase the university’s budget.
“What we want is for Law 195 to be reformed,” UPEA chancellor Ricardo Nogales told reporters while marching along one of La Paz’s main avenues.
The chancellor said he had sent the Bolivian government a proposal to debate the reform in Congress.
In response, the government offered to provide the UPEA with special funding to help the university solve its economic troubles, since reforming the law would imply “taking funds away from other sectors,” in the words of Economy Minister Mario Guillen.
UPEA rejected the special funding – a recurring temporary solution that has been offered in the last four years – while countering the idea that there were no resources to permanently increase the university’s budget.
Even though the conflict is now in its second week, Nogales said that a resolution to the crisis through dialogue with lawmakers was “close” to being achieved.
The government had first said that the death of the student on May 24 was the result of a projectile launched by demonstrators, although it later recognized that he was shot by a police officer, who was detained and is now awaiting trial.