Bolivian Drivers Protest to Increase Public Transportation Costs

Santa Cruz, Bolivia 15 Feb. 2011: Bolivian public transportation drivers blocked and marched down several city avenues today, stopping only to sing the national anthem at the city's landmark 'Cristo' statue. They are asking the public to support, rather than reject, their efforts to raise the cost of public transportation.

Thousands of bus and truck drivers took to the streets and blocked several main arteries in Santa Cruz. Equipped with banners, mobile DJs, soda bottles filled with pebbles (which they use as rattles), and fireworks, they marched toward the city center from several surrounding points.

"Transporters united will never be defeated" and "We serve the public every day. Where is the public for us now?" were some of the slogans they chanted.

Since 2009 public transportation unions have attempted to obtain approval from the city and national governments for a nationwide price hike, citing increasing maintenance costs in addition to the general rise in the cost of living, which spiked severely in December 2010 when the Bolivian government announced an 80%+ increase in the cost of fuel. Although the fuel decree was eventually abrogated after several days of protests and rioting, few of the prices raised as a result of it have returned to normal.

Typically, when public transportation prices increase, the costs of a great many other products go up as well. Therefore, the general feeling among the public is that if transporters increase their prices now, the cost of living will rise even further in response. Read more in Spanish here.

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