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