Vendors protesting new changes made to the Bolivian Customs Law and Tax Regimen passed last Wednesday, which would tighten controls on smuggling, burned the Bolivian Customs building in Oruro today. Police attempted to recover importation documents and stored merchandise that had not yet cleared customs, while firefighters struggled to control the fire.
Throughout the country markets are closed today as vendors protest changes that would seriously deter the importation of contraband from neighboring countries. They believe the government should control contraband at the border but not in market places.
The flames threatened to spread to a farmer's market and police station nearby.
The Bolivian Minister of Economy and Public Finance, Luís Arce Catacora, deplored their actions, stating they were being "misinformed" by union leaders.
According to Bolivian news reporters on the scene, an agreement had been reached by union leaders to enter into dialogue with the government just minutes before protesters lit the building on fire. The damage has not yet been quantified.
National roads and highways are blocked throughout the nation today as truckers join in to support this protest.