A group of disabled Bolivians is protesting in the city of Cochabamba by suspending themselves in their wheelchairs from a city overpass. The group is demanding improved benefits and subsidies from the government. Rough Cut - Subtitled (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - SUBTITLED (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A group of Bolivians with disabilities took their push for expanded benefits to new heights when they suspended themselves in wheelchairs from a Cochabamba overpass on Tuesday (March 8). The protest took place at the Blanco Galindo bridge which joins the central city of Cochabamba with the rest of the country. The demonstrators are seeking a 500 boliviano ($72 U.S. dollar) monthly benefit, an increase from the current 83 boliviano ($12 U.S. dollar) monthly amount, and have been protesting for several weeks. A similar protest took place last month. Some demonstrators are going to extremes by allowing themselves to be enclosed for days inside a tiny brick enclosure. One woman, Prima Manuel, said she and the others were getting desperate as they have not received any response from the government. "We ask the government and authorities to please engage in a dialogue with this sector (of people with disabilities). If they will not hold talks, it doesn't matter. I feel sorry for my colleagues who have to suffer hanging up there in the heat!" Manuel said. Local media reported the government had allocated some 40 million bolivianos ($5.8 million U.S. dollars) for the disabled. But the pool has been divided into two groups - half has been paid out as a monthly stipend and the other half has been used for funding projects for the disabled. The Cochabamba protesters said the funds going to the projects do not help and they want everything to be paid out as a monthly stipend. Meanwhile, Cochabamba Governor Ivan Canelas told local media the matter had to be solved by the federal government. The demonstrators said they will continue protesting even if it means making a wheelchair-bound march to La Paz. Other cities, such as Potosi, Santa Cruz, Sucre and El Alto, have joined in with protests, which include hunger strikes.