Disability protests erupt in Bolivia

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In an effort to pressure the Bolivian government to expand government disability services, a caravan of about 50 people with disabilities traveled more than 1,000 miles over 100 days, ending Thursday in the nation’s capital, La Paz.

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News from Bolivia

They were met by about 1,100 people supporters rallying outside the country’s parliament building.

They were also met with pepper spray and riot police. Five people were arrested.

Hundreds of protests, some in wheelchairs, “settled into makeshift camps in the streets around the square, with some even stripping down to their underwear as a form of protest,” according to an article by Al-Jazeera English.

The protests argues that Prime Minister Evo Morales is violating a 2006 law that required the government to divert “funds from political parties and citizen organisations to the disabled,” according to the article.

The petition calls for a tripling of a state subsidy for people with disabilities.

“It’s very hard to be a person with a disability,” Domitila Franco, a wheelchair-user, told the Guardian. “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.”

A group of five protesters have since begun a hunger strike.

A video of the protest can be seen here.