The Bolivian military was deployed to guard key infrastructural sites across the country on Monday, August 10, as widespread protests over delayed elections entered their second week. Security forces have also been ordered to ensure the continuity of essential services and transport of medical supplies, particularly bottled oxygen, which have recently been disrupted by opposition roadblocks in some areas of the country.
Anti-government demonstrators have blocked numerous roads in Bolivia over the last week, particularly in rural areas of the Beni, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Potosi, and Santa Cruz departments, in protest at the postponement of elections originally scheduled to be held on September 6. The protests, publicly supported by former president Evo Morales from exile in Argentina, have seen at least 128 major roads closed in recent days, disrupting travel and the movement of goods between the country's major urban centers. However, some of the largest protests have been held in La Paz's twin city of El Alto, causing major disruption in the capital. Whilst many of these protests have remained largely peaceful, clashes have broken out in several areas between demonstrators and security forces attempting to clear roadblocks.
Further protests and associated travel disruptions are likely throughout Bolivia in the medium term.
A new wave of unrest has been occurring since Monday, August 3, as groups affiliated with the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) began an indefinite protest against the decision to postpone general elections, originally scheduled to occur on September 6, until October 18 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The elections are to be a re-run of a general election held in 2019 following which controversies surrounding the results sparked protests, leading to the resignation of former president Evo Morales. In previous protests, major travel routes have been blocked in Cochabamba, Oruro, La Paz, Potosí, and Santa Cruz departments. Protests have also been held in several major urban centers.
Those in Bolivia are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities. Roadblocks are a common form of protest in Bolivia and may be erected at short notice on major transport routes. Travelers should never attempt to cross roadblocks but should plan alternative routes to avoid them.
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