Bolivian protesters go on hunger strike

Al Jazeera English

by Al Jazeera English

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Vowing to continue their fight for equal rights, and a government subsidy of nearly $700, five disabled protesters went on a hunger strike in La Paz, a day after they clashed with police trying to prevent them from reaching the government palace.
Some 1,000 disabled Bolivians tried to march on La Paz's Murillo square on Thursday to demand a higher monthly stipend.
"We aren't asking for any favours from the government," said Luis Felipe Leigue, one of the leaders of the disabled group, which numbers 46,000 across the country.
"We are asking for what rightly belongs to us. We are asking them to approve the law that we drafted and they are not doing it. We want to make it to Murillo Square, a place that belongs to all Bolivians, and they won't let us."
When their caravan arrived in La Paz, they were met by police in riot gear; some were beaten, tased, and teargased. Hundreds settled into makeshift camps, some even stripped down as a form of protest.
On Friday, the Bolivian government said infiltrators had provoked the violent response from police.
The protesters, many of them in wheelchairs and on crutches, began marching November 15 in the eastern city of Trinidad, and have covered approximately 1,750 km.
The protesters also claim that President Evo Morales has failed to comply with a 2006 law that diverted funds from political parties and citizen organisations to the disabled.
The law reportedly re-routed some $6m annually to the disabled but the money never made it to them.
Al Jazeera's Nick Toksvig reports.