Bolivian mob attacks politician, cuts her hair, cover her in paint and force her to march barefoot

The mayor of the Bolivian town of Vinto and member of his ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, Patricia Arce, is being humiliated by a mob of opposition supporters, in Vinto, close to Cochabamba, on November 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Bolivian mob attacks politician, cuts her hair, cover her in paint and force her to march barefoot

  • The opposition mob stormed the municipal headquarters and dragged the mayor into the street before setting the building ablaze

LA PAZ: Bolivia’s President Evo Morales condemned on Thursday an attack on a female mayor in which an opposition mob forcibly cut her hair, covered her in paint and marched her barefoot through the streets.
Bolivia has been rocked by deadly post-election violence over opposition claims that Morales rigged his re-election last month.
A 20-year-old student died in clashes Wednesday between pro- and anti-government demonstrators in the central city of Cochabamba, bringing the overall toll to three dead since the October 20 election.
In nearby Vinto, an opposition mob stormed the municipal headquarters and dragged the mayor, Patricia Arce, into the street before setting the building ablaze.
Morales said in a tweet Thursday that Arce — a member of his ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party — had been “cruelly abducted for expressing and defending her ideals and the principles of the poorest.”
Television images showed her on the ground, her hair cut, and covered in red paint. She was dragged and forced to walk barefoot through the town by the mob, before being rescued by police on motorcycles.
Morales’ party demanded the police bring the perpetrators to justice.
Arce’s office told local media Thursday the mayor “is recovering” from her ordeal.
“For these people, being a woman is a crime, being humble is a crime, having a skirt is a crime, said Vice President Alvaro Garcia.
“This has never happened in our democracy. That is called fascism: attacking women, assaulting them for their ethnic status. What Bolivia is facing is a fascist wave.”
The Women’s Social Organizations, linked to the ruling party, expressed “outrage” at the attack, and “for all the insults of hatred, racism, discrimination and violence” of the opposition.

 


Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

Updated 54 min 28 sec ago

Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

  • At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks
  • More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding
MOGADISHU, Somalia: Ahmed Sabrie woke up to find his house half-submerged in fast-rising flood waters.

Frightened and confused, he herded his sleepy family members onto the roof of their home in central Somalia as scores of thousands of people in the town, Beledweyne, scrambled for their lives. Clinging to an electric power pylon by the edge of their roof, the family watched as their possessions were washed away.

“I could hear people, perhaps my neighbors, screaming for help but I could only fight for the survival of my family,” the 38-year-old Sabrie, the father of four, recalled.

As one of his children, unfed, wailed the family waited for more than 10 hours before a passing rescue boat spotted them.

Authorities have not yet said how many people died in the Somalia flooding last month, the country’s worst in recent history and the latest reminder that the Horn of Africa nation must prepare for the extremes expected to come with a changing climate.

At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks. Local officials have said at least 22 people in all are presumed dead and that toll could rise.

“This is a catastrophic situation,” Mayor Safiyo Sheikh Ali said. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who visited the town and waded through submerged areas, called the devastation “beyond our capacity” and pleaded for more help from aid groups.

With no proper emergency response plan for natural disasters, local rescuers used rickety wooden dhows to reach trapped people while helicopters provided by the United Nations plucked people from rooftops. African Union and Somali forces have joined the rescue operations and the Somali government airlifted food.

“Many people are still trapped in their submerged houses and we have no capacity and enough equipment to cover all areas,” said Abdirashakur Ahmed, a local official helping to coordinate rescue operations. Hundreds are thought to still be stuck.

With more heavy rains and flash flooding expected, officials warned thousands of displaced people against returning too quickly to their homes.

More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Beledweyne town was the worst affected. Several thousand people were sheltering under trees or in tents.

“Floods have destroyed more than three-quarters of Beledweyne and submerged many surrounding villages,” said Victor Moses, the NRC’s country director.

Aid groups said farms, infrastructure and roads in some areas were destroyed. The destruction of farmland near rivers is expected to contribute to a hunger crisis.

The possibility of further damage from heavy rains in the coming days remains a concern, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Parts of the Lower Juba, Gedo and Bay regions, where IOM has supported displaced populations for years, have been affected. Many displaced people were stranded without food, latrines or shelter.

“In Baidoa, people have moved to high ground where they are in immediate need of support,” said Nasir Arush, the minister for humanitarian and disaster management for South West State.

Survivors like Sabrie now must struggle to rebuild their lives.

“We’re alive, which I am thankful to Allah for, but this flood disaster wreaked havoc on both our livelihoods and households so I see a tough road ahead of us,” he said from a makeshift shelter built on higher ground outside town.