Tension in Bolivia: followers of Evo Morales maintain 60 road blocks in six departments in the country

Road blocks in Bolivia hamper the passage of oxygen (EFE)

The government of Jeanine Áñez identified 60 roadblocks in six departments in Bolivia by groups related to the former president Evo Morales, who protest the postponement of the elections due to the spread of the coronavirus in the country. Besides that, announced the imminent use of the military and police to end the blockades, than hinder the arrival of oxygen essential for hospitals in the cities of Cochabamba, La Paz, El Alto and Oruro.

We have the hot spots [de bloqueos] and clearly the footage that the overflights provide us will give us the way to act in the operations that we have to do and that will be done at any minute”, Affirmed the Minister of Government (Interior), Arturo Murillo.

Murillo said state intelligence agencies detected the main blocking points in the regions of La Paz, Oruro (west) and Cochabamba (center). There are also cuts in the departments of Potosí (southwest), Santa Cruz (east) and Chuquisaca (southeast).

Followers of Evo Morales protest against postponing elections amid pandemic (EFE)
Followers of Evo Morales protest against postponing elections amid pandemic (EFE)

Neighbors, peasants and indigenous people related to Morales (2006-2019) Roadblocks began on Monday in rejection of the electoral body’s decision to postpone the general elections from 6 September to 18 October.

The elections were postponed on two previous occasions due to the pandemic, which to date has caused 3,465 deaths and more than 86,400 infected in the country of 11 million inhabitants.

Protesters believe the postponements are only intended to harm left-wing candidate Luis Arce, the Morales dolphin, who leads polls for ex-president Carlos Mesa and interim president Jeanine Áñez.

The interim government has said it will lift the blockades (EFE)
The interim government has said it will lift the blockades (EFE)
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Clashes between civilians

In the cities of El Puente and Samaipata, in the Santa Cruz region, riots took place between road blockers and rival groups, with no injuries reported.

In El Puente, collisions with stones and sticks have been reported, and in Samaipata, demonstrators forcibly forced the closure of all commercial stores. At nightfall, neighbors organized to repel another attack.

The government also denounced that blockers looted trucks carrying food for cities. “They are looting trucks, they are stealing“Minister Murillo said.

At the same time, the Bolivian chancellor Karen Longaric filed a complaint with the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington “Violent and inhuman actions” incited, according to her, by Morales, a refugee in Argentina, and asked the international community to censor these events.

A car wrecked cutting a road (EFE)
A car wrecked cutting a road (EFE)

The cry for oxygen

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the blocks generated a lack of essential oxygen for hospitals.

Oxygen has to be transported from Santa Cruz in tank trucks or cylinders, but because of the blockades, they were only able to reach Cochabamba. Part of the supply arrived on overhead bridges, but hospital officials consider it insufficient.

There are 60 blocks across the country (EFE)
There are 60 blocks across the country (EFE)

The National Director of Epidemiology, Virgilio Prieto, reported the death of 31 people “Due to lack of oxygen due to road blocks and attacks on the transport of supplies, medicines and others that get stuck on the roads.”

United Nations, OAS and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed concern about the blockages and asked that vehicles with medical supplies be allowed to drive.

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(With information from AFP)

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