Bolivia: Security forces open fire on protesters in Cochabamba

November 16, 2019
Security forces fired live bullets at protesters in Sacaba, Cochabamba. Photo: People's Dispatch.

Bolivian security forces killed as many as five protesters and gravely injured hundreds near the Huayllani bridge in Sacaba, Cochabamba on November 15 . The Indigenous and peasant protesters, who hail from six coca-farmer federations, were attempting to march from the small city of Sacaba to the department’s capital, Cochabamba when they were met with a military and police cordon.

As the peaceful march attempted to advance, soldiers and police officers fired at the protesters with tear gas canisters and live bullets.

Jorge Arreaza the Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela strongly condemned the massacre: “Disproportionate repression and massacre in Cochabamba, today November 15. Strong images, but necessary to denounce the repressive and dictatorial nature of those who have seized power in Bolivia. The International Community should condemn and act to detain this barbarie.”

Their intention was to march to the city of Cochabamba and to reach the country’s capital, La Paz, on Sunday to join the thousands of Bolivians mobilizing against the civic-military coup carried out against President Evo Morales and Vice-president Alvaro García Linera.

On November 12, right-wing senator Jeanine Añez declared herself “interim president” of Bolivia in a session without quorum, which would theoretically render the declaration illegitimate. Shortly after she was decorated with the tri-color sash by military officials, thrust up a massive bible and proclaimed “the bible has returned to the palace!” She was accompanied by right-wing leader Fernando Camacho who was one of the driving leaders of the pro-coup mobilisations.

A protester in Sacaba said: “We want freedom. Until this 'self-proclaimed' resigns, we will continue marching with road blockades, we will not stop. For 14 years in the Tropic of Cochabamba we have lived in peace, there has not been this type of conflicts, massacres, robberies. This is a peaceful march.”

Organisations in Bolivia have denounced the complete media blackout on the violent repression of anti-coup protests. Apart from the five deaths and hundreds of injured today in Sacaba, reports indicate that as many as 6 have been killed in the past week as well as hundreds injured.

Many supporters of Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism have also been arrested, threatened, and intimidated by security forces and right wing thugs.

Four Cuban doctors, members of the Cuban medical brigade were also arrested and accused of inciting the anti-coup protests.

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