Safety and Security
Protests, strikes, and other civic actions are common and disrupt transportation on a local and national level. While protest actions generally begin peacefully, they have the potential to become violent. The police have used tear gas to break up protests. In addition to rallies and street demonstrations, protesters sometimes block roads and have reacted with force when travelers attempt to pass through or go around roadblocks. You should avoid roadblocks and demonstrations. Demonstrations protesting government or private company policies occur frequently, even in otherwise peaceful times.
If you plan to travel to or from Bolivia, you should take into consideration the possibility of disruptions to air service in and out of La Paz and other airports due to protests. Monitor Bolivian media reports and the U.S. Embassy website for updates. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens avoid areas where roadblocks or public demonstrations are occurring or planned. Political rallies should similarly be avoided in light of press reports of violence at some rallies in various parts of Bolivia.
Roadblocks: Roadblocks are common in Bolivia. If you find yourself at a roadblock, you should not attempt to run through it, as this may aggravate the situation and lead to physical harm. Instead, you should consider taking alternative, safe routes, or returning to where the travel started. If you plan to take a road trip, be sure to monitor news reports and contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz at (591-2) 216-8246 or the U.S. Consular Agencies in Cochabamba at (591-4) 411-6313 and/or Santa Cruz at (591-3) 351-3477 for updates. Given that roadblocks may occur without warning and have stranded travelers for several days, you should take extra food, water, and warm clothing.
The U.S. Embassy also advises U.S. citizens to maintain at least two weeks’ supply of drinking water and canned food in case roadblocks affect supplies. For more information on emergency preparedness, please consult the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) web site.
The countrywide emergency number for the police, including highway patrol, is 110. The corresponding number for the fire department is 119.
The National Tourism Police has offices in La Paz and Cochabamba, providing free assistance to tourists. In the city of Santa Cruz, Interpol will provide these same services to tourists. These services include English-speaking officials who may assist tourists in filing police reports of lost/stolen documents or other valuables. The La Paz office is open 24 hours a day and is located at Plaza del Stadium, Edificio Olympia, Planta Baja, Miraflores, telephone number 800-14-0081. The Cochabamba office is located at Plaza 14 de Septiembre, Edificio Prefectura, tel. (591-4) 450-3880; it is open from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. seven days a week.
Chapare and Yungas Regions: In the Chapare region between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba and the Yungas region northeast of La Paz, violence and civil unrest, primarily associated with anti-narcotics activities, periodically create a risk for travelers. This region is also prone to dangerous flooding due to heavy rains from December to February.
Confrontations between area residents and government authorities over coca eradication have resulted in the use of tear gas and stronger force by government authorities to quell disturbances. Pro-coca groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government or private interests. If you plan to travel to the Chapare or Yungas regions, we encourage you to check with the Embassy's Consular Section prior to travel. Violence has also erupted between squatters unlawfully invading private land and security forces attempting to remove them.