Bolivia

Bolivia: Bolivian Red Cross provide aid during another day of conflicts in La Paz

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Thursday, 2nd of June saw yet another day of tense social conflicts in the Bolivian cities of La Paz, Oruro, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. As the day progressed, the media reports on the situation were varied, the protests continued and no solution seemed to be forthcoming.

Silvana Palma, a volunteer with the Red Cross La Paz branch, was called upon to serve in the Red Cross emergency relief team, on the alert for any possible emergency. Her main concern upon her arrival at the office in the early hours of the morning was to revise and restock the contents and medication of her first aid kit, "I have to be prepared. I don't want to be missing anything; in such cases some things tend to run out", she commented whilst checking the amounts of antiseptic, gauzes, cotton and other materials in her kit

As the volunteers are called to the ambulances, Silvana takes a last, quick look over her personal equipment and uniform, "the Red Cross emblem we carry on our uniform is very important; we cannot run the risk of not being allowed to work when people need our help...like this we can count on being understood and respected", she says whilst joining the other volunteers in one of the ambulances heading to the town centre.

The ambulance arrives at the San Francisco Square moments after a dispute that has caused a number of minor injuries, "thank you for your help, señorita", one of the injured says, "it's not serious but I do need something for the pain; they were hurling stones at me because I was trying to defend a group of women. I couldn't let them carry on assaulting these women with sticks and stones".

The ambulance continues on to the University of San Andrés and the Bolivian Assembly of Human Rights where protestors and countryside workers from other departments are staying. In one of these sectors, 30 members of the Consejo de Ayllus y Markas del Kollasuyo (a council of Aymara and Quechuan countryside workers), made up of both men and women, have been on a hunger strike for the past 15 days. Silvana and her colleagues arrive to provide first aid relief to those in need of it. They check the condition of the protestors, their blood pressure, respiration and pulse. "We visit them every 48 hours" she comments on the return journey to the Red Cross office, thus concluding her shift for the day.