Bolivian strike over census delay paralyzes agricultural export hub

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LA PAZ — Thousands of people in Bolivia launched an indefinite strike Saturday in the lowland city of Santa Cruz, a major agricultural export hub, to protest the postponement of a population and housing census that is delaying access to more economic resources.

One death was reported by police in clashes between people who accepted the strike and those who wanted to reject it. Television news footage showed several blocked highways, empty streets and markets, and shuttered businesses.

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The results of the census are important for the distribution of economic resources and the definition of seats in the Bolivian parliament.

The head of the Bolivian committee responsible for promoting the census, Vicente Cuellar, said that 2024 and 2025 would not be « opportune » to carry out the census due to elections scheduled for 2025.

Lawmakers called for calm and agreed to continue talks until a deal is reached that can end the indefinite strike.

According to official estimates, Bolivia has about 12 million inhabitants, of which about 3.3 million live in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is considered the stronghold of the Bolivian economy and is the main livestock and agricultural producer, known for the production of soybeans, sunflowers, sugar cane, corn, rice and wheat. (Report by Daniel Ramos in La Paz Writing by Walter Bianchi and Cassanda Garrison Editing by Matthew Lewis)


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