Bolivian protest against census date turns deadly

Blocked street in Santa Cruz, part of a protest demanding that the government speed up a population census scheduled for 2024

AIZAR RALDES

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Supporters of the Bolivian government and protesters who want the 2024 national census brought forward by a year clashed in the country’s economic hub of Santa Cruz on Saturday, killing one person.

The protests were part of a strike called in Santa Cruz.

Skirmishes erupted early in the morning when government supporters and critics emerged armed with rocks, sticks and explosives in Puerto Quijarro, a town of around 20,000 people bordering Brazil, according to footage broadcast on social media. social.

A man trying to stop anti-government protesters from blocking a bridge in Puerto Quijarro was reportedly attacked with sticks and admitted to a hospital in the city, where he died.

“We condemn the violence carried out during a civic strike that has caused the irreparable loss of human life in Puerto Quijarro,” said leftist President Luis Arce.

Although the census is scheduled for 2024, some want it to be brought forward to next year, so that the booming Santa Cruz region’s influence in the legislature is reflected sooner.

“We need more means. This department, Santa Cruz, is very large and the means are very limited, for health, education,” Claudia Lopez, a 35-year-old trader, told AFP.

The conservative lowland city of two million has a bustling commercial center and agriculture on the outskirts, unlike the dry Andean highland city of La Paz, seat of the country’s government, which is heavily influenced by indigenous Quechua and Aymara peoples.

Many streets in Santa Cruz – usually crowded – were blocked and empty on Saturday.

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