Bolivia’s right-wing opposition had planned to block all major roads in every region of the country on Wednesday; however, the government and transport authorities have confirmed that no major roads are blocked and called the protest a ‘failure’. The protesters believe that leftist President Evo Morales should not stand for reelection at the upcoming presidential vote this October.
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Bolivia’s Minister of Communication Manuel Canelas said on Wednesday morning that "We believe that the action has been a failure, the reports sent to us, the images we have seen show that there is free transit and a normal development of work activities... being a critic, is a legitimate thing and that is very good, but I believe that the failure of today's protest should lead them to reflect"
The protests had been planned by ‘civic committees’, right wing organizations, to take place in 5 of Bolivia’s 9 departments. However, the largest department, Santa Cruz, suspended planned protests so that authorities could attend to those affected by forest fires near the border with Brazil.
Another civic committee, that of Potosi, decided to suspend their participation as they had just been protesting a few days earlier about a local issue in their region.
So on Wednesday, just three of Bolivia’s civic committees took part, that of La Paz, Cochabamba and Tarija, where state media reports that protests had tried to block highways using tyres, stones, chairs and other materials, due to the low turnout among protesters.
Opposition media in La Paz pointed out that some private schools had closed in solidarity with the protests. But that all public schools were open and operating normally despite attempts to block bus routes and main roads.
The protesters are opposed to Bolivia’s leftist government led by Evo Morales. They believe that Morales, first elected in 2005, has been in office for too long, despite winning reelection repeatedly by large margins.
Polls indicate that Evo Morales is likely to win yet another reelection in October, Morales is currently almost 20 points ahead of his nearest rival Carlos Mesa, candidate for the neoliberal ‘Citizens Community’ party which has been hit in recent days by splits and racism allegations.
Bolivia is currently the fastest growing economy in the region, which analysts say is due to Evo Morales’ strategy of nationalizing natural resources and strategic industries. Morales will be hoping that a buoyant economy will be enough to deliver reelection on October 20th.