Bolivian Truckers Block Roads, Call for Better Wages and Lower Fuel Costs


Truckers in Bolivia conducted a two-day blockade of significant roads, protesting against socialist President Luis Arce’s government over persistent diesel fuel and foreign currency shortages that have severely impacted their work.

Luis Arce, Bolivia’s president, during the South America Summit at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, May 30, 2023. (Ton Molina/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The truckers criticized the ongoing diesel fuel shortage, which severely disrupts their operations. Representatives reportedly described the situation as “disastrous,” noting that they can only work one day at a time, stopping for another day or two to search for diesel.

“We are mobilized at a national level in different departments where we are making it known that we have needs, answers that we need from the Government in the economic order,” Marcelo Cruz, leader of the Association of International Heavy Transport of Santa Cruz, told reporters.

Cruz demanded that the Bolivian government guarantee the supply of diesel fuel to the truckers, emphasizing that “a day we don’t work is a day without money” to support their families.

The blockade coincided with President Luis Arce’s official visit to Russia for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Arce is reportedly also seeking to reactivate trade agreements with Russia to bolster Bolivia’s struggling economy, which has been hit hard by a drop in natural gas sales, the country’s main export, leading to a shortage of foreign currency.

“We are asking for a meeting to determine and improve our situation, which day by day is declining. We are going to have to eat our trucks bolt by bolt because we no longer earn,” Héctor Mercado, president of the Bolivian Chamber of Passenger Transport, told reporters Monday.

According to Bolivian Public Works Minister Édgar Montaño, the government will establish “technical table” talks starting Thursday across the country to begin addressing the truckers’ demands and invited the protesters to join the discussions. Montaño, who first claimed on Monday that the blockades were the beginning of a purported “coup” against Arce, stated that the results from the talks will be forwarded to the Bolivian president once he returns from Russia.

While the protesters lifted the two-day blockade as of Wednesday, they reportedly rejected Montaño’s invitation and have demanded to meet with Arce personally. They announced a temporary pause in protests until June 14 to allow time for the Bolivian President to return from Russia.

“We have taken the decision to wait until June 14. If we are not tended to by our president by June 14, on June 17 we will start our mobilization indefinitely. This time it will be with border closures in Tambo Quemado and Pisiga,” the president of the Oruro Departmental Transportation Chamber, Jorge Gutiérrez, told the Bolivian newspaper El Deber on Wednesday.

Christian K. Caruzo
Christian K. Caruzo
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism.

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