Bolivian President Evo Morales hastily left the southern mining city of Oruro on Feb. 11 after protesters angered by rising food prices and shortages jeered him and set off dynamite. Morales canceled plans to lead a march in the city commemorating an 1871 anti-colonial uprising there, and retreated back to the capital, La Paz. “The government took the decision not to respond to shameful provocations of this kind,” presidential spokesman Ivan Canelas said. Protesters were especially upset about a near-doubling in the price of sugar after the government lifted subsidies. The march was led by the regional labor federation, the Departmental Workers Central (COD).
In the eastern opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz, protesters blocked the road to the airport Feb. 10 to demand the government scrap the newly formed Food Production Support Company (EMAPA), which they assert would force small merchants from the market. Contrary to the demands of the unionists in Oruro, they demanded the government drop all controls on the sale of sugar. Marches against EMAPA were also held in La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and other cities, under the slogan “Small merchants are not speculators.” (AP, Feb. 12; BBC News, Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, La Razón, La Paz, La Prensa, La Paz, Feb. 11)