Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bolivia's disabled people clash with police over subsidies

from BBC News. A series of photos of the protest at Buzz Feed.

Dozens of disabled people have clashed with police in Bolivia during a protest calling for higher state subsidies.

Several protesters were hurt as they tried to break through a police cordon in the country's main city of La Paz.

Riot police used pepper spray to prevent the demonstrators from entering the presidential square.

The protesters - who had made a 100-day trek to La Paz - wanted an annual state subsidy of about $400 (£254). They currently receive about 30% of that.

The caravan of about 50 disabled protesters - many in wheelchairs or on crutches - covered more than 1,500km (932 miles), living off the charity of people they met on the way.

In La Paz, the demonstrators were met by the riot police, who blocked off a street towards the presidential square.

The protesters then tried to break through, hitting officers with sticks and crutches.

Domitila Franco, who uses a wheelchair, told the BBC she was struggling to make ends meet.

"It's very hard to be a person with a disability. 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, and doing whatever I can," she said.

Living with a disability in Bolivia is not easy, especially if you are poor, the BBC Mattia Cabitza reports.

Most buildings are not accessible to wheelchairs, and people with disabilities often cannot go to work or school, our correspondent adds.