Peaceful Vigils Turn Violent in Bolivia: An Eyewitness Account
Written by Rebecca Tarlau, from Upside Down World, Thursday, 11 January 2007
The main plaza of the Bolivian city of Cochabamba turned into a war zone on January 8th. Protestors demanding the resignation of Cochabamba’s governor, Manfred Reyes Villa, were faced with violent police repression as they tried to take over the government offices.
Loud gun shots could be heard all over the city center, as police fired tear gas into the crowds, sending protesters and civilians running. The protestors, predominately coca farmers from the Chapare region of Cochabamba, started small fires all over the plaza to counteract the unbearable effects of the gasses. Other fires were more deststructive: several cars belonging to government officials smouldered in the plaza, while the locked door to the governor’s office was also set on fire. Earlier, Bolivian citizens who had dared to get close to the police force hit the door with large sticks, attempting to break it down.