Individuals in the capital, La Paz, and in other cities have reported severe food and fuel shortages as of Sunday, November 17, due to nationwide roadblocks set up by supporters of exiled former President Evo Morales who are demanding the resignation of the interim government. Roadblocks in El Alto municipality are largely responsible for the empty supermarkets and the closure of several gas stations in neighboring La Paz. The Minister of the Interim Government has said that airplanes are bringing supplies to the capital, and that the interim government intends to do the same for other cities that are suffering from shortages. Community leaders in El Alto have called for a general strike on Monday, November 18.
Security forces opened fire on Morales supporters protesting in Sacaba (Cochabamba Department) on Friday, November 15, killing at least nine people and wounding several others. Clashes erupted as demonstrators tried to cross a military checkpoint in the area. The surge in violence came as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez, said earlier on Friday that Morales, currently in Mexico, would face possible legal charges for election fraud and corruption allegations if he returned to Bolivia.
Additional protests, including spontaneous ones, are to be expected daily in other urban centers and across La Paz. A heightened security presence, as well as business and transportation disruptions, are expected at all demonstrations and during the general strike. An escalation of violence between rival political supporters and between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.
On November 14, interim president, Jeanine Áñez, reportedly reached an agreement with lawmakers to hold new presidential elections. A specific date for the vote has not been announced, but under the constitution the interim president has 90 days to hold an election.
The US Department of State asked family members of government employees to leave Bolivia on November 12 due to the ongoing uncertainty. It also warned American citizens against traveling to Bolivia and said the US government had limited ability to provide emergency services.
Former President Morales resigned on November 10, following weeks of protests organized by opposition political organizations. Tensions have been high in the country since the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia (TSE) halted its provisionary vote count on October 20 after 83 percent of the ballot was completed. Initial results indicated that President Evo Morales was short of securing the 10-percentage point lead needed to prevent a runoff election. However, on October 21, the TSE updated the count, indicating that President Evo Morales secured 47.08 percent of the vote against his primary rival Carlos Mesa, who received 35.51 percent, preventing a runoff. Political opposition supporters are accusing the TSE of manipulating the vote in favor of Morales.
Individuals are advised to avoid traveling to La Paz until the situation normalizes.
Travelers in La Paz and across Bolivia are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all demonstrations due to the risk of violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in demonstration- and strike-affected areas, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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