LA PAZ – Peasants from the Bolivian town of Zongo, 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of La Paz, occupied a power plant, interrupting the supply of electricity to three major cities, media outlets said.
Television channels reported that about 200 farmers from Zongo took over the COBEE plant, owned by the Israeli firm Inkia Holdings, to demand payment of a royalty for the use of local water sources.
The peasants diverted the flow of the water to the plant, affecting its electricity output and causing power outages in several cities including La Paz, El Alto and Potosi.
This hydroelectric plant and the one at Miguillas, which is also operated by COBEE, together generate about 220 megawatts, or about 24 percent of Bolivia’s electricity.
The interior ministry said in a communique that Deputy Minister Marcos Farfan, a prosecutor and 160 police officers were sent to Zongo to “guarantee the functioning of the electrical energy generators.”
The administration warned that “under no circumstances will the restriction of basic services be permitted,” given that such services were acknowledged as public rights under the 2009 constitution.
The government added in its statement on the matter that the cutoff of basic services “constitutes a serious crime, as a result of which appropriate action will be taken to punish those responsible for any measure against the interests of the public.” EFE