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Bolivian unions take to the streets to protest “illicit profits” and state financing of terrorism

More than 100 individuals arrested as Bolivian unions took to the street to protest "illicit profits" and state financing of terrorism.

Protestors took to the street in 7 Bolivian cities.
Protestors took to the street in 7 Bolivian cities. | Radoslaw Czajkowski

November 10, 2021 9:45pm

Updated: November 11, 2021 7:45pm

Protestors and police clashed on Monday as transport and retail union members took to the streets, launching an indefinite strike in protest of a law against “illicit profits” and state financing of terrorism. Protestors blocked roads in 7 of Bolivia’s 9 regions, including Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, La Paz, Tarija, Potosí, Oruro and Beni.

Police are alleged to have used tear gas in order to break up roadblocks and protestors have stated that masked individuals arrived in unmarked vans, lighting firecrackers in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

More than 100 civilians were arrested, La Prensa Latina reported.

On the street, civil and political groups joined the protestors, claiming that President Luis Arce’s socialist government is using the judiciary to centralize power and crackdown on popular dissent.

"They want to investigate us as criminals to find out where we get our money and our merchandise," Francisco Figueroa, a top union leader, told Reuters. "There is fear that they will take everything from us."

Division has run rampant in Bolivia since former strongman Evo Morales abruptly resigned in 2019 amid popular uprisings. His Movement for Socialism (MAS) party has since accused the conservative opposition of leading a coup against him.

Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo downplayed the unions’ strikes, however, and told state media that in most of the country things were operating normally.

"In almost eight departments of the national territory there is complete normality, free movement. In the department of Santa Cruz there are sporadic blockade points that have been made up more by stones than by people," he said.

The strike began on the same day that President Arce completed his first year in office, EFE reported.