Bolivian farmers, boat workers brawl amid drought


A drought in central Bolivia is creating tension over water rights, pitting boat operators against farmers.

Last week, a fight broke out between the two over how the water of La Angostura dam should be used.

Police fired teargas to break up the feuding crowd.

La Angostura was first built in the 1940s to provide water for agriculture and cattle on land nearby, but now, boat tours, fishermen and restaurant owners rely on the artificial lake.

Tourism has dropped due to the global health crisis and the country's low vaccination rates and a drought has put pressure on farmers like Jaime Rocha, who have called for the water to be released.

"It is a social problem. The people living in Valle Alto, the ones who live around La Angostura dam want to take control of it. If they released the water by opening the gates, we would have water to improve our situation as farmers and milk producers."

Meanwhile, tour boat operators say they’ll lose the little income they have if the water is drained.

Ruddy Garcia is the President of the lake’s tourism association.

"We need a good water level to be able to offer a good service for tourists. A low water level means the trips are shorter."

Local media reported farmers closed major roads in Cochabamba earlier this week, as they continue to demand solutions to the water shortage problem.

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