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  • Woman carrying a child watches armed vehicles during a protest in Senkata, El Alto, Bolivia Nov. 19, 2019.

    Woman carrying a child watches armed vehicles during a protest in Senkata, El Alto, Bolivia Nov. 19, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 November 2019

The army and police forces brutally repressed citizens who were demonstrating near a fuel refinery.

At least eight people were shot dead and another 30 were seriously injured during a joint operation whereby the army and police expelled citizens who were demonstrating near a fuel refinery in Senkata, a highland city located about 25 miles from La Paz.

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By mid-morning on Tuesday, with the support of a helicopter that was monitoring civilians, a caravan of armored vehicles managed to reach the state-owned refinery, which President Evo Morales' supporters had been protesting at for several days.

"Three people were killed as a result of gunshots, but the full details are not known yet," Bolivia's Ombudsman said and requested that the Army withdraw immediately to "avoid further deaths."

Once the incidents were publicly known, however, Defense Minister Luis Fernando Lopez denied the army's responsibility in what the population has called "the Senkata massacre."

"The army did not fire a single projectile," Lopez said and repeated "Not a single projectile."​​​​​​​

Since October 20, Bolivia is experiencing a severe political crisis that has left at least 30 people dead and more than 700 injured.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

This complex situation began immediately after the presidential elections in which Evo Morales became the winner in the first round.

Nevertheless, candidate Carlos Mesa and other right-wing forces ignored the election result and called for demonstrations against the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) leader.​​​​​​​

Forced by pressure from the army and the Police, Morales announced his resignation on Nov. 10 and, one day later, he left for Mexico as a political refugee.​​​​​​​

Almost immediately, breaking with the presidential succession process established in the constitution, Senator Jeanine Añez proclaimed herself as "interim president." The military backed her decision.

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