The Fort Worth Press - Bolivian protest over census date turns deadly

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Bolivian protest over census date turns deadly
Bolivian protest over census date turns deadly / Photo: © AFP

Bolivian protest over census date turns deadly

Bolivian government supporters and protesters who want the 2024 national census brought forward by a year clashed Saturday in the country's economic hub of Santa Cruz, leaving one person dead.

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

Skirmishes broke out starting early in the morning as government backers and detractors came out armed with stones, sticks and explosives in Puerto Quijarro, a city of some 20,000 bordering Brazil, according to images broadcast on social media.

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

"We condemn the violence exercised during a civic strike that caused the irreparable loss of a human life in Puerto Quijarro," said leftist President Luis Arce.

Though the census is scheduled to be taken in 2024, some want it brought forward to next year, so that the booming Santa Cruz area's influence in the legislature will be reflected sooner.

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

The conservative-leaning lowland city of two million residents has a bustling business core and farming on the outskirts, in contrast to the dry Andean highland city of La Paz, the country's seat of government, which is heavily influenced by Quechua and Aymara Indigenous people.

Many streets in Santa Cruz -- usually packed -- were blocked off and empty Saturday.

T.M.Dan--TFWP