Everybody who possibly can has a duty to unite and fight back now against ConDem barbarity and injustice.
Fortunately, we live in a country where our protest can remain peaceful.
There is no cavalry coming to save us!
WE ARE THE CAVALRY!
Dozens of disabled people on crutches and in wheelchairs have clashed with police in the Bolivian capital over a demand for better welfare support, leaving several injured and fuelling anger against the government.
A caravan of about 50 adults and children ended a 1,000-mile, 100-day trek through Bolivia at the protest near government buildings in La Paz on Thursday. Scuffles broke out and pepper spray was used.
The group confronted lines of riot police, who prevented them from reaching the legislature and presidential palace to petition for a tripling of the £91 monthly state subsidy for disabled people.
The protesters tried to break through the lines using their crutches and wheelchairs, but were forced back in a melee that left several injured and four detained. The protest organisers then declared a hunger strike by 10 adults and a round-the-clock vigil by the rest.
The clashes were another public relations fiasco for the president, Evo Morales, who has seen his once-stratospheric popularity plunge amid protests from coca farmers, indigenous rights activists and environmentalists.
Bolivia’s first indigenous leader swept to power in 2006 on the promise of easing poverty and extreme inequality, and was hailed a saviour in his first few years. But marches on La Paz – notably a protest over a controversial Amazon road last October – have shown former supporters’ impatience and disenchantment.
The disabled protesters set off on their 1,000 mile journey from Beni, a department bordering Brazil, in November. They relied on charity during their journey to the highland capital.
In addition to higher welfare payments, they are demanding better state efforts to integrate them into a society that makes little provision for those with physical or mental disabilities.
Domitila Franco, who uses a wheelchair, told the BBC that she struggled to get by. “It’s very hard to be a person with a disability,” she said. “Even our own husbands abandon us because they feel ashamed of us. I look after my four children alone, washing and ironing clothes for people, and doing whatever I can.”
The protesters planned to end their trek at Plaza Murillo, the heart of government, having seen other marches do so. “Why not us?” Camilo Bianchi, a protest leader, asked local media. “It’s a public space.”
Carlos Romero, a government minister, told a press conference that opposition groups had infiltrated the march and it was necessary to block it.
“There are other groups trying to politicise this, trying to create a climate of disorder and confrontation,” he said. “Our obligation is to secure Plaza Murillo.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Bolivia’s disabled clash with police over subsidies
Protesters hit the officers with sticks and crutches
Several protesters were hurt as they tried to break through a police cordon in the country’s main city of La Paz.
Riot police used pepper spray to prevent the demonstrators from entering the presidential square.
The protesters – who had made a 100-day trek to La Paz – wanted an annual state subsidy of about $400 (£254). They currently receive about 30% of that.
The caravan of about 50 disabled protesters – many in wheelchairs or on crutches – covered more than 1,500km (932 miles), living off the charity of people they met on the way.
In La Paz, the demonstrators were met by the riot police, who blocked off a street towards the presidential square.
The protesters then tried to break through, hitting officers with sticks and crutches.
Domitila Franco, who uses a wheelchair, told the BBC she was struggling to make ends meet.
“It’s very hard to be a person with a disability. Even our own husbands abandon us because they feel ashamed of us. I look after my four children alone, washing and ironing clothes for people, and doing whatever I can,” she said.
Living with a disability in Bolivia is not easy, especially if you are poor, the BBC Mattia Cabitza reports.
Most buildings are not accessible to wheelchairs, and people with disabilities often cannot go to work or school, our correspondent adds.
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