Protests against delayed election continue in Bolivia

La Paz, Aug 4 (efe-epa).- Another day of protests against the postponement of elections disrupted Bolivia on Tuesday with roadblocks and demonstrations against the country’s electoral body.

The interim government and its detractors, such as former president Evo Morales’ Movement to Socialism (MAS), again blamed each other for violent incidents, amid several arrests and injuries.

The protests began last week after the Supreme Electoral Court announced the delay of elections again, from Sep. 6 to Oct.18. They had already been postponed from May 3 due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Banging pots and pans in front of the headquarters of the electoral body in La Paz, protesters demanded that elections remain in September, while criticizing the interim government of Jeanine Áñez for extending it indefinitely with the epidemic as an excuse.

One of the protesters, Eddy Gonzales, told EFE that the transitional government argues that voting cannot be held while COVID-19 infections are rising, but “does nothing” to improve health care.

Some roads in the country were blocked again Tuesday by groups of protesters in cities such Sacaba.

Another protester in this city, Felipe Mamani, told EFE that Áñez neither allows elections to take place, despite saying she wants to go to the polls, nor does she improve the health system to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Demonstrations, on foot and in vehicles, were denounced by the interim government as a “very serious attack on health,” by failing to respect the ban on gatherings.

Several members of Áñez’s cabinet denounced that the blockades impeded the transport of medical supplies such as oxygen, so transportation by air was organized.

One of the main organizations that summoned the marches, the Central Obrera Boliviana, urged demonstrators to allow the passage of ambulances and medical supplies, but warned that protests against the electoral body and the interim government will continue.

The transitional interior minister, Arturo Murillo, reiterated that it is the electoral body that decides on the elections, not the government, and denounced that protesters receive “millions” for mobilizing and asked why international organizations such as the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights do not comment on these protests as they do on other occasions against Áñez.

Murillo told the media that during the protests there were arrests and injuries, without giving a figure, while the Ombudsman said there were at least seven arrested, including a minor.

The MAS denounced “violent police repression” in what was considered a “disproportionate use of chemical agents” against protesters.

Bolivia has to elect a president, vice president, deputies and senators in elections that have been pending since the annulment of the positions in October amid electoral fraud allegations — still under judicial investigation — in favor of Evo Morales. He had been declared president but resigned, claiming that he was pressured by a coup d’etat that denied him his victory. EFE-EPA


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