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Dozens of French tourists stuck in Potosi

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-08-05

A group of French tourists have been stranded in the Bolivian city of Potosi due to violent demonstrations rocking the south-western region of the country. Protesters in Potosi have blocked several roads, including the entry and exit of the city.

Dozens of foreign tourists, including French nationals, have been trapped in their hotels in the Bolivian city of Potosi for nearly a week due to violent demonstrations that have gripped the south-western region of Bolivia.

Demonstrators in Potosi have put forward six demands, including the resolution of a border problem with the neighbouring province of Oruro.

Protesters in the mountainous city have blocked several roads, including the entry and exit of the city, stranding residents and tourists.

‘Complete anarchy’

The already volatile situation deteriorated on Tuesday when a call from the Civic Committee of Potosi, which spearheaded the protest, drew a crowd of nearly 100,000 people, according to local media reports. Protestors then forced the local authorities to hold a council, which ended in violence.

"There’s complete anarchy here,” Ms. Giniot, a stranded French tourist, told FRANCE 24 in a phone interview Wednesday. “The police and army have lost control of the situation. The situation has been very serious since Friday but yesterday was worse than usual. I heard explosions until 4am. The miners were in the street. The governor was hurt, he sustained a head injury and left the city. I went to the military, but they said they did not leave because they themselves were afraid."

Demonstrations on Tuesday turned violent when political representatives and public buildings were attacked. Four parliamentarians from Potosi began a hunger strike on Tuesday demanding that the federal government send a delegation of ministers to the city to try to calm the situation and initiate dialogue.

"We are completely blocked, we have a plane to catch soon and do not know what to do,” said Ms. Giniot. “The French consulate said that we must wait. But we are desperate, people are losing patience."

A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry told FRANCE 24 that the French consulate in Potosi was in contact with the stranded French tourists and reiterated that they should stay in their hotels until the situation calmed down.

Date created : 2010-08-04

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