Bolivian riots ‘injure six’

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Activists with the Independent Human Rights Assembly said six people were injured by rubber bullets fired by police after a second day of violence.

Riot police attempted to contain the rallies using tear gas and water canons as demonstrators converged on the Plaza des Armas, the location of Bolivia’s Congress and the presidential palace.

Four people were arrested for damaging vehicles and public property.

At one point a group of miners detonated dynamite blasting caps near the central square before police arrived.

“This march of some 40,000 people is for ‘nationalisation without compensation’,” Roman Loayza, the head of Bolivia’s peasant confederation and a senator for the Movement Towards Socialism, told Reuters.

“And the constitutional assembly is a question of life or death for us because when Bolivia was found, we Indians were not included in any way,” Mr Loayza added.

American Airlines suspended its flights after activists threatened to take over Bolivia’s international airport in El Alto.

More planes are expected to be grounded on Wednesday, with airport workers announcing a 24 hour strike.

President Carlos Mesa has rejected calls to nationalise the country’s massive natural gas industry, the second largest in South America after Venezuela.

The Bolivian Congress voted on May 17 to allow the state a greater stake in natural gas production, but President Mesa told Spain’s El Mundo newspaper he had neither signed nor vetoed the law.

The law has annoyed foreign energy companies, including Exxonmobil, Total, Pertobras, British Gas and Repsol, who have slammed the move as tantamount to confiscation of their installations.

President Mesa has vowed to hold onto power until elections in 2007, after taking over the reins of government from Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who was toppled by similar protests 19 months ago.

Meanwhile, across the border in Peru, more than 2,000 people have broken into BHP Billiton’s Tintaya copper mine demanding more investment in local infrastructure.

Mine spokesman Richard Adahui told Reuters that administrative staff were evacuated from the camp, in Peru’s southern Cusco province, when about 500 protesters entered the facility.

Tinatya’s vice-president Lucio Rios said that grassland surrounding the camp had been set alight and stones thrown at police.

But the chaotic scenes had no impact on production at Peru’s third largest copper mine.

Mining interests are frequently targeted in Peru by residents who fear their agricultural livelihood is threatened and that more benefits should be returned to the local economy.

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