After 21 days of protests and the departure from the country of the dethroned President, Evo Morales, Bolivians are trying to re-establish their normal, everyday lives.
In the wake of reports of irregularities in the presidential election, people in various areas started to mobilise. The most important movement took place in Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia, where 40-year old Luis Fernando Camacho, leader of the Civic Committee for Santa Cruz, called a civil strike on 22 October. The protest quickly spread across the country, with huge gatherings of people and violence. At least ten deaths are being investigated.
For three weeks the only vehicles on the streets of Santa Cruz were those of the emergency services and, until lunchtime, vehicles delivering food. After lunch, people blocked the streets with tyres, cars, chairs, water tanks and whatever else they could lay their hands on.
The day after Morales stepped down, Luis Fernando Camacho encouraged people to stop the blockades. In Santa Cruz’s Mutualista market I meet 63-year-old Aurelia Suxo, happy to be heading home at last after sleeping by her fruit stand for 21 nights.
Since then, the most visible traces of the protests have been long queues outside banks and the irregularity of government services.
“It feels strange. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself the day after,” says Karla Rodozebick, a 29-year-old university student who was a protest leader in her neighbourhood.
Another resident, 51-year-old Paul Handal, tells me that normality has returned to such an extent that it’s hard to believe that life was disrupted by a lengthy strike.
But in La Paz, Cochabamba and Yapacani there were signs that political differences will take longer to sort out. A mere hours after Morales’ resignation violence erupted, initially between supporters and opponents of the ousted president, and then between police and supporters of Morales’ political party.
/Rocío Lloret Céspedes, Santa Cruz
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