Disabled Bolivian protesters make standFeb 25 02:03
The media loves it when big bad police officers get in our disabled faces; the weak/strong dynamic is great imagery. That being said, it’s no wonder the recent protests in Bolivia have been all over the news, and for good reason.
I’d be pissed too if the increase in my annual income from the government (that was already not enough) never came. You can’t blame disabled Bolivians for causing a ruckus when you look at the facts. They must live in a country where attitudes are still backwards towards people with disabilities, making getting a job hard if not impossible. Because of this, they must rely on the kindness of family and friends for everything. Not an easy position to be in. All the protesters are asking for is what was already promised to them: $400 per Bolivian with moderately severe to extremely severe disabilities on an annual basis (right now they’re only receiving 1/3 of that). In 2006, a bill was passed that was supposed to put aside $6 million to disabled Bolivians, but the money disappeared.
Their protest was an epic journey that began last November over 1400 kilometers away in the nearby mountains, where nearly 1,000 Bolivians with disabilities marched until they reached the capitol of La Paz. Once they entered the city, they clashed with police before they even reached the main city square (ever seen a wheelchair-user surrounded by police in riot gear? You will now). Some of them were tasered, arrested and even a handful went on a hunger strike.
I gotta say, these Bolivians are quite badass, but I’m pretty sure it’s in their blood. Bolivians have a long history of protesting with impressive success. And the proof: The protests seem to have worked. Yesterday, the Bolivian government approved a draft law that will go into effect in 2013 that promises Bolivians with disabilities an increase in their annual income as well as protection of their rights.
I guess it’s sad, but true: Violence in certain cases can help fix things. It’s just too bad it takes getting to that fiery point to get people, and countries, to do the right thing.
Have you ever been involved in a protest?
- The Guardian: Disabled protesters clash with police in Bolivia
- Prensa Latina: Bolivia Approves Bill for Disabled People
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.