La Paz, Nov 8 (EFE).- Clashes between protesters blockading roads, and police and groups that tried to disperse the demonstrations on Monday marked the first day of an indefinite strike in Bolivia that ended with more than 100 arrests.
The intensity of the strike in protest of a law on a national strategy to combat the legitimization of illicit profits and the financing of terrorism was especially felt in seven of the nine regions of the country where the protesters blocked several roads, including Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, La Paz, Tarija, Potosí, Oruro and Beni.
Clashes also broke out in eastern Santa Cruz, the country’s economic powerhouse, between demonstrators and supporters of the ruling Movement Toward Socialism party who were trying to remove the blockades.
The protesters said that people wearing hoods came in vans and lit firecrackers to unblock the roads, before leaving.
Police also arrived early to unblock the streets and used tear gas at some sites, according to local media reports.
The Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee said that about 90 people were arrested in that region alone and confirmed that the strike would continue for a second day.
In Cochabamba’s Suticollo area, protesters erected barricades out of mud and stones to prevent the passage of heavy transport.
“The police do nothing when the masistas blockade, but when real people are in the streets they have brutally grabbed us and gassed us,” one of the protesters told Efe.
At least 20 arrests were registered in various parts of Cochabamba amid police crackdowns.
Clashes also broke out in Tarija, in southern Bolivia between demonstrators and groups trying to unblock the roads.
Beni, one of the poorest regions of the country, complied with the strike demanding that the government repeal the law and confirmed that it would strike for only 48 hours.
Some incidents were also reported in La Paz and Oruro.
“It is a strike without any grounds,” said Vice Minister of Communication Gabriela Alcón, adding that all “issues are being addressed” by the government.
Vice Minister of Internal Affairs Nelson Cox said that 125 people were arrested throughout the country on the first day of the strike.
Several detainees were in possession of sharp weapons and tear gas, according to Cox.
“We regret that there were blockades with belligerent attitudes, there is a level of violence in people who have been at the blocking points,” he added.
Cox said that it was an “absolutely regular” day except in Santa Cruz and that the police ensured smooth movement of traffic.
The strike occurred on the same day that Bolivian President Luis Arce completed a year in office. EFE