May 17 - Police fire tear gas and water cannon to disperse health workers protesting over plans to extend their working hours. Paul Chapman reports.
Bolivian police opened fire with tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesting health workers on the streets of La Paz. This was the latest in weeks of demonstrations, unleashed by government plans to extend their working day from six to eight hours. More than 30 protesters were hurt when the demonstration turned violent. SOUNDBITE: ROLANDO AZURDUY, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SAYING (Spanish): "We'll continue until they repeal that damned Presidential Decree 1126 which has damaged our dignity, not just of doctors but of all Bolivians. Everyone here is supporting us to get the decree repealed. We want peace, we want them to repeal it. Repeal or death." Earlier in the day, Bolivia's presidential minister said a new law had been passed to override the original decree at the heart of the dispute. That's not enough to satisfy the protesters who fear the extended hours could be reintroduced. The government says the issue will be discussed at an impending health summit, leading many to believe the row isn't yet over. The protests have seen support for President Evo Morales plunge, while violent demonstrations, strikes and road blocks have brought chaos across the country. Paul Chapman, Reuters