Bolivia, we give up!

Posted by Jonathan, August 11th, 2010

Ok, Bolivia is fouled up beyond all recognition.  The entire southern half of the country is inaccessible.  Yesterday, we took the bus south 4 hours from LaPaz to Oruro, hoping to catch the train to the salt flats of Uyuni.  So we got to the train station, and found it completely abandoned. The protestors at Potosi have blocked the tracks, and the entire rail network of Bolivia is now shut down.  So our plan B was to get a bus.  At the bus station, we talked to 3 bus companies- two said no buses were going to Uyuni due to blockages, but the third said the could take us via an alternate route which would take 14 hours over rough roads.  But as we were debating whether to do it, they received a call- apparently the protesters had caught wind of the alternate route and shut that down!  We would have talked to other bus companies, but they were all closed- the agents stopped bothering to show up a long time ago.  So with that, we had no choice but to give up on the remainder of our Bolivia trip and head back to La Paz.  Its not much fun to spend 8 hours on a bus only to end up in the exact spot you started- we even stayed in the exact same hotel room 🙁

Even after all the problems the protesters have caused us, its hard not to be impressed with their effectiveness.  They´ve blocked every road into Potosi, as well as all the other main roads in southern Bolivia.  Not only that but they have blocked all the alternate routes, they´ve seized the airport, and they even remembered to block the railroad, which runs exactly twice a week! Not only are they thorough but they show no mercy- they won´t let anyone in or out of Potosi even though the city itself is nearly out of food. They wouldn´t even allow tourists with serious medical problems out of the city. It took two attempts with a helicoptor to finally evacuate the sick tourists.   See

Yesterday, they finally agreed to meet with the government in Sucre.  However, when they arrived, there were protests outside the building, and they couldn´t get in.  So, they left saying the government closed the doors on them and broke off all dialogue. And in case things weren´t bad enough, now the president, Evo Morales, has left the country on a trip to Asia, so he´s not even around to negotiate. In addition, they´ve escalated the protest by seizing the electrical plant to the San Luis mine, and they´re threatening to shut off the power to the mine.  In case all that wasn´t enough, there is a new law, which is causing massive protests, entirely seperate from the massive protests going on in the South!  There have been huge protests throughout the country, and yesterday protestors bombed a customs building in Oruro!

So we have given up on Bolivia and today we travelled into Peru, where the roads are actually open. 🙂

Check out AlexT´s comment, which is pretty much spot on with what is going on right now.
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