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“They Persecute Us”: Bolivian Police Attack Peaceful Pro-Morales Demonstration by Indigenous Communities

Bolivian police in La Paz have attacked a peaceful demonstration by thousands of indigenous supporters of the rightful Bolivian President Evo Morales, firing tear gas into the crowd and beating protestors. 

The massive demonstration in the streets of La Paz denounced the US-backed far-right military coup as protestors chanted their support for Morales, criticising Senate leader Jeanine Anez who illegally declared herself President on Tuesday. Footage shows the protestors marching though the streets of the Bolivian capital in peace, flying both the Bolivian and Whipalas flags and chanting slogans against Anez, Carlos Mesa and Fernando Camacho.

Despite the peaceful intentions of the march, police attacked the crowd with tear gas and provoked a defensive response from protestors who attempted to counteract the heavily armed police with makeshift projectiles.

“They have carried out a coup d’etat against us, but not only that, last night Ms. Jeanine Anez became the self-proclaimed president. We are against that right now. We simply want to ask for her resignation at once… As of last night, we are living like in dictatorship times. They are hunting our leaders, they are hunting… It’s very likely that they’ll see me and want my head too”

Jaime Alquizalet, demonstrator

Many in the indigenous community feel that police actions are inspired by racism, with the coup leaders links to Christian fundamentalism and the far-right being public knowledge.

“They persecute us, as Bolivians, those from El Alto. They discriminate against us because we come from El Alto and La Paz. They call us ‘collas’ [term for highland indigenous groups]. They discriminate against those who wear skirts [referring to indigenous women] and we won’t allow it to happen”

Yolanda Albarrazin, demonstrator

Racist violence against indigenous communities has increased since the beginning of the coup, with far-right squads going from house to house as they beat and detain both minorities and left-wing activists alike.

There have also been frequent street burnings of the the Wiphala flag, a symbol of Indigenous communities.

The violence comes as the far-right and Christian fundamentalist links of coup leaders such as Luis Fernando Camacho were revealed, Camacho having extensive links to far-right paramilitaries in the Santa Cruz region of the country.

Camacho who has been accused of misogny, “racism, class hatred and provocation” has been likened to Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsanaro.

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