Latin America

How the census has provoked mass protests in Bolivia

Regional conflict between the ruling MAS party and the country’s easternmost provinces has often turned bloody. This time, the sides are at loggerheads over demography

Bolivia protesters clash with police forces. Photo: Martín Alipaz/EFE
Bolivian protesters clash with police forces. Photo: Martín Alipaz/EFE

When one thinks of strikes, street rallies, and political protests, a population census is not the first issue that comes to mind as the reason behind it. But this week’s paralyzation of Santa Cruz de la Sierra – the largest, richest, and most populous department in Bolivia – did not come as a result of labor conflicts, tax reforms, or border disputes.

Instead, the turmoil was a result of the province’s demand for the immediate completion of the country’s national census, which has turned into the region’s most hotly contested issue.

One might wonder how demographics can create...

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