Bolivia: labor unrest rocks La Paz

Riot police clashed with protesting laid-off workers in Bolivia's capital May 17, during a march against the government's decision to close the country's largest state-run textile company, ENATEX. Three people were hurt, including a protester who lost his hand while preparing to hurl a stick of dynamite. At least 20 were arrested after some 5,000 workers marched on the ENATEX factory in the Villa Fatima district of La Paz. Protesters took over the ENATEX offices, and police used tear-gas to prevent workers from occupying the factory itself. More than 800 people were laid off when President Evo Morales liquidated the foundering parastatal this week. Morales' administration bought the company in 2011 to save it from bankruptcy. The march was organized by COB, Bolivia's general labor federation, which threaetened solidarity actions in other sectors and cities if the arrested workers were not released. (El Deber, Santa Cruz, May 18; AP, TeleSur, May 18)

La Paz also saw street clashes April 27, when hundreds of disabled citizens—many in wheelchairs—marched on the capital after a cross-country trek from Cochabamba to press long-outstanding demands for higher benefits. Police used tear-gas when the marchers protested in the city center, demanding an audience with Morales. (ANF, Bolivia, April 30; Fusion, April 28; Diario Correo, Peru, April 27)

  1. Bolivia: police clash with disabled —again

    Police in Bolivia have clashed with disabled protesters who tried to approach the presidential palace to demand an increase in state benefits. The Bolivian government said a group of protesters attacked police officers with knives and "noxious gases." Police pushed them back with high-pressure water cannons. (BBC News, May 26)