COCHABAMBA, Bolivia – Sanitation workers in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba began removing on Thursday thousands of tons of garbage that had accumulated in the streets over more than 10 days after authorities reached an agreement with a group of protesters who had blocked the entrance to a dump.
Workers of the Municipal Company of Cleaning Services (EMSA, in Spanish) of Cochabamba took on the arduous task of clearing the streets of one of the largest cities in Bolivia of garbage after the departmental and municipal authorities reached a deal with the protesters from the neighborhood of K’ara K’ara, in the south of the city.
EMSA manager Cristian Cuellar said that it is estimated that there are more than 5,000 tons of waste to collect and that the work will be completed over about 72 hours.
For 10 days, the group had been demanding the closure of the dump, the provision of water, the easing of quarantine restrictions, the resignation of authorities such as the interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Añez, and the holding of elections in the country, which have been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus epidemic.
On Wednesday, the dialog between representatives of the protesters and authorities began, in which Cochabamba governor Esther Soria participated, as well as representatives of the Ombudsman and the Human Rights Assembly, among others.
A 16-point agreement was signed, which included points such as the lifting of lockdown measures, the provision of water and food baskets, and the release of their detained leaders.
From dawn on Thursday, about 700 people and more than 20 trucks worked to collect the piles of waste that had accumulated in corners and near popular markets.
After the garbage has been collected, the streets will be disinfected.
The garbage clearance comes in the midst of the COVID-19 health emergency under which Bolivia remains in lockdown to prevent infections.
The country has so far recorded 199 deaths and 4,919 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Cochabamba is a city of around 631,000 people, and also a municipality, in central Bolivia in a valley in the Andes mountain range.