Bolivia Transport Strike Turns Violent: Police

La Paz. Angry residents and transport workers hurled stones at each other on Tuesday as a strike snarled the Bolivian capital for a second day, closing schools and forcing commuters to walk to work.

Police, residents and strikers were injured during the melee, which erupted in a neighborhood that links La Paz with the bedroom community of Los Altos, said Colonel Jose Camacho, chief of the traffic police in Los Altos.

Groups of residents “tried to go through a blockade manned by the transport workers, and it turned violent, with stones thrown from both sides,” he said.

An AFP reporter on the scene counted at least five people who were injured by hurled stones.

Interior Minister Carlos Romero earlier told local television that protesters had set up barricades at 40 locations around the city.

The strike, sparked by a new law that tightens regulation of the public transport system, forced the suspension of public school classes for a second day, driving hundreds of commuters to hike to work and others to stay home.

Those trying to get through pickets on the way to work reported angry encounters with the demonstrators.

“They were attacking private vehicles,” said Arturo Quispe, president of a federation of neighborhood organizations.

“We all have the right to protest, but not to assault. This is reprehensible and is earning them the public’s repudiation.”

The leftist government of President Evo Morales has been hit by a wave of labor and social unrest over a variety of issues in recent weeks.

The Bolivian Workers Confederation has called a 72–hour general strike starting Wednesday to push for pay increases.
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