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Stranded French tourists escape violence-wracked city of Potosi

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-08-05

A group of mostly French tourists has managed to leave the Bolivian city of Potosi after demonstrators temporarily opened roadblocks that were blocking access to the city, currently embroiled in violent protests.

Some 60 foreign tourists, the majority of whom are French, were on Wednesday able to escape a Bolivian city where they were been trapped by demonstrations that had descended into violence.

The protests in the south-western city of Potosi have been going on for nearly a week, but have degenerated into violent clashes with police in the last 48 hours.
 
Protesters in the mountainous city had blocked several roads, including the entry and exit of the city, stranding residents and tourists.
 
On Wednesday night, the group of 60 trapped tourists - 40 of whom are French nationals - were allowed out of the city after strikers and protesters agreed to lift roadblocks, according to an AFP source.
 
‘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. Protesters then forced the local authorities to hold a council, which ended in violence.
 
The committee, made up of local businesses and social organisations, wants the Bolivian state to invest more in Potosi, demanding the construction of an airport, a new road to the southern city of Tarija, a cement factory and a zinc mine.
 
"There’s complete anarchy here,” a stranded French tourist told FRANCE 24 in a phone interview on Wednesday. “The police and army have lost control of the situation. The situation has been very serious since Friday but [Tuesday] 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.
 

 

Date created : 2010-08-05

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