Protests intensify in Bolivia over gasoline prices

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 31, 2010 04:22



LA PAZ, Bolivia — Protests against a sharp increase in fuel prices intensified and turned violent in Bolivia on Thursday, as thousands of demonstrators demanded President Evo Morales' government repeal the hike.




Demonstrators filled the streets in La Paz and other cities to protest the higher prices, which were announced suddenly on Sunday, prompting an immediate 73 percent jump in gasoline prices and an 83 percent rise in prices for diesel. It also led to rapid increases in transport and food prices in the Andean country.




Some demanded the resignation of Morales, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. It has been the most unpopular measure of Morales' five-year presidency.




Taxi drivers held a strike that largely paralyzed La Paz on Thursday, and protests were also held in the cities of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Potosi and Oruro.




The march in the capital began peacefully but clashes with police erupted when demonstrators tried to enter the main plaza where the government palace is located. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, who hurled stones at officers, the vice president's office, a union headquarters and two ministry buildings.



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