Bolivian mayor is dragged through the streets and has her hair hacked off by furious mob
A Bolivian mayor has been doused in red paint and had her hacked off by protesters who blamed her for the deaths of two opposition protesters.
Patricia Arce, of the governing Mas party, was dragged out of Vinto town hall on Wednesday and subjected to four hours of degradation in which she was made to kneel and sign her resignation.
Young men carrying batons and wearing masks chanted, ‘Murderess, murderess,’ as they marched Arce to a platform where they cut her hair before the baying mob.
Bolivia has been gripped by deadly protests following President Evo Morales’ election victory on October 20 over claims it was rigged.
Mayor of Vinto, Patricia Arce, speaks to the media after being attacked in the street by a crowd that sprayed her with reddish paint and cut her hair in Vinto in Cochabamba province on Wednesday
Young men carrying batons and wearing masks chanted, ‘Murderess, murderess,’ as they marched Arce to a platform where they cut her hair before the baying mob
On Wednesday, rioters were blocking a bridge into Vinto, according to the BBC, when rumours spread two protesters had been killed in a neighbouring city.
It was later confirmed a 20-year-old student had died of injuries sustained in clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators in the city of Cochabamba.
A ferocious mob marched to the town hall where they accused Arce of bringing in heavies to put an end to their blockade and blamed her for the deaths.
The mayor was forced to sign a resignation letter on her knees and released to the police after four hours of being paraded.
Regional police commander Walter Alvis received her in a van which was bombarded in a hail of stones as it sped away, according to Tele Sur.
The student’s death in neighbouring Cochabamba city brings the death toll in clashes since October 20 to three.
Morales, first elected president in 2006, is seeking to remain in power until 2025 after he took legal action to get around constitutional term limits.
Protesters set fire to the Mayor’s Office during a day of wild rioiting in the town of Vinto, previously viewed as a stronghold of the ruling Mas party
Police rescue Vinto mayor Patricia Arce Guzman on a motorcycle after people threw paint and dirt on her following a fire in Vinto’s Town Hall
After four hours of degradation she was released to the police, regional police commander Walter Alvis received her in a van which was bombarded in a hail of stones as it sped away
Protesters carrying batons and shields set fire to the town hall in Vinto on Wednesday
He tweeted ‘deep regret’ over the death Wednesday, and described the student as ‘an innocent victim of violence promoted by political groups that encourage racial hatred among Bolivian brothers.’
Meanwhile Luis Fernando Camacho, an opposition leader based in the Santa Cruz region, flew to La Paz where he was joined by ex-president Jorge Quiroga (2001-2002) and opposition politician Gustavo Pedraza with plans to deliver a letter to the president demanding his resignation.
The powerful Catholic Church cautioned against such an open challenge to Morales’ authority.
‘Asking for the president’s resignation is a radical measure,’ said Sucre Archbishop Jesus Juarez.
The Cochabamba clashes took place after members of farmers’ unions, mainly women, began an effort early in the day to clear opposition roadblocks that have stopped traffic for several days.
Rival groups fought pitched battles in the city with rocks and sticks. Some protesters launched firecrackers from homemade bazookas.
The Town hall of Vinto is seen after a fire, the interior of the building was utterly destroyed in the blaze
The scorched exterior of the town hall in Vinto after it was torched by demonstrators on Wednesday
‘Evo, friend, the people are with you!’ supporters chanted before clashing with opponents, mainly students, in a city square.
Anti-Morales protests were also held Wednesday in the cities of Santa Cruz, Sucre, Tarija and Potosi, shutting down state offices and companies.
Bolivia’s state oil company warned of likely fuel shortages because of the protests. ‘It is impossible to supply service stations,’ it said in a statement.
Conservative opposition leader Camacho, 40, has called on military support to oust Morales from office.
Morales, speaking at a naval ceremony on Wednesday, insisted that the military must ‘serve the people’ and support his government.
A demonstrator throws a rock during opposing protests between supporters and opponents of Bolivian President Evo Morales, in Cocabamba, Bolivia
Demonstrators clash with the police during a protest against President Evo Morales’ reelection, in La Paz, Bolivia on Wednesday
Up to now Bolivia’s armed forces have stayed neutral in the electoral dispute – and calling on the military to solve political problems is a highly controversial move.
Bolivia saw numerous military uprisings and dictatorships during its republican life before civilian rule was established in 1982.
Carlos Mesa, who ran second against Morales in the October polls, has called for a new vote to be held.