LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) – Health workers, teachers, coca growers and soy growers held protests Monday against the government of President Luis Arce amid a slow decline in new coronavirus infections following an outbreak in Bolivia.
Almost at noon, the sectors united and marched through the center of La Paz near the Presidential Palace. One group was gassed by the police.
It was the fourth day of unemployment of health professionals in rejection of a health emergency law promulgated last week by the president.
“We have been victims of grenades, of gas. Several boys have been affected, this repression did not correspond, ”Fernando Romero, spokesman for the Union of Public Health Medical Branches (SIRMES) told the local media.
Meanwhile, in most hospitals only emergencies were treated and care for other pathologies was suspended.
The medical leadership called a strike until February 28 in order to repeal the rule because they do not agree with the hiring of foreign doctors, price control in private clinics and drugs against the new coronavirus, among others.
The coca growers in the north of La Paz – critical of the government – joined the protests against the law and also asked that it respect the coca leaf market in the city and its leadership.
A group of teachers joined the protests of the doctors and asked for conditions for themselves and students after the start of classes at the beginning of the month. Most of the country entered classes virtually, but with stumbling blocks due to the unequal lack of access to the internet and technological equipment.
The Minister of Health, Jeyson Auza, said that the law would not be repealed and called on the sectors to be part of the regulation of the law.
In the eastern region of Santa Cruz, the soy sector, they carried out road blocks against a price band established by the government.
« It causes us to be offered to pay 50 dollars less per ton of soybeans, which represents a loss of more than 100 million dollars for soybean producers, » said the president of soybean producers, Fidel Flores.
In parallel, the country awaited the arrival of a batch of 500,000 Chinese Sinopharm vaccines, of which 100,000 will arrive as donations. A plane from the Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) state airline departed on Monday for Beijing, Arce reported on his Twitter account.
« We appreciate the support of President Xi Jinping to combat the pandemic, » he added.
In Bolivia, more than 10,000 people were vaccinated with the first dose of the Russian Sputnik V, most of them workers in intensive care units. On Monday morning he started with the injection of the second dose.
At a time when Bolivia slowly decreases COVID-19 infections, the Andean nation has a cumulative 242,292 cases and 11,441 deaths.