Bolivia Deploys Military to Guard Fuel Stations

Bolivia Deploys Military to Guard Fuel Stations
Bolivia Deploys Military to Guard Fuel Stations

Bolivia has deployed soldiers to guard fuel stations in the country's second largest city of El Alto to prevent smugglers from diverting gasoline to illegal markets.

Long queues of trucks could be seen waiting outside of a fuel station in the western Bolivian city.

Bolivian President Luis Arce earlier this week said an agreement had been reached with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for Russia to sell fuel to the South American country, ensuring supply to Bolivia as its stores have dwindled.

The government has blamed smuggling for recent fuel shortages, with lines growing and cargo haulers blocking highways in protest in recent weeks.

Bolivia is sending its military to gas stations in a bid to curb the smuggling of subsidized fuel that, according to the government, is causing gasoline and diesel shortages across the country.

Protests against fuel as well as dollar shortages have been growing louder in the Andean nation, with trucker unions threatening road blockades if the situation persists.  

Bolivia has been struggling with falling oil production and a chronic lack of foreign currency that make it increasingly difficult for the government of leftist President Luis Arce to import the fuel that’s sold domestically at below-cost prices. 

“We have instructed the Armed Forces to assist in the fuel supply,” Arce said. “Much of the current excess demand is due to fuel being diverted.”  

The president said he will meet with truck drivers over the weekend in a bid to appease them. A group of street vendors is also marching toward La Paz with similar demands. It is expected to arrive. 

Falling oil production has forced the country to import 56% of the gasoline and 85% of the diesel it consumes, according to Arce. The president has also sought to import oil from Russia during a recent visit to Moscow.