Caravana La Paz: The continued fight for equality in Bolivia

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On March 21st, the brave Bolivian AKIPerDis protestors began their 265 mile journey by wheelchair through the Andes mountains to capital La Paz to demand equality and livable disability pensions.

The group has already come face-to-face with adversity in many of its forms in the roughly 100 miles that they’ve traveled since the 21st of March. Amidst death threats, injuries, and the loss of the groups leader, Caravana La Paz (Caravan of Peace) perseveres because of the extreme importance of their mission. The support garnered from the ME/CFS community has enabled them to go as far as they have and we must now see to it that they make it the rest of the way safely and with their spirits fully intact.
March 16
AKI-PerDis (Kanata Association of People with Disabilities) in collaboration with #MEAction launches a crowdfunding page to raise money for a 265 mile journey that the Bolivian group plans to take through the Andes mountains by wheelchair. The money will be used to buy new wheelchairs, food, water, tents and medical care for the group as they make the daunting trek.

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Wheelchairs purchased with funds raised by the #MEAction community are delivered by the truckload to AKIPerDis protesters in Bolivia.
March 21 – 10:00 a.m.
AKIPerDis protesters depart from the Bolivian city of Cochabamba with plans to travel 14km on the first day of the trek to arrive in the town of Quillacollo by nightfall. The group consists of nearly 100 Bolivians with disabilities including 30 children that join their parents or extended family. Though this is the first day of this journey, these brave men, women and children are no strangers to grueling conditions as most of them have already been protesting in various capacities for the last 40 days.
 
This little protester joins her family on the journey to La Paz to demand equality in the form of livable pensions for individuals with disabilities.
This little protester joins her family on the journey to La Paz as they demand equality in the form of livable pensions for individuals with disabilities.
 
March 31
Mrs. Justita Aspete, a Bolivian woman is assaulted by members of the Federation of Campesinos, a peasant group in the town of Llavini that are enforcing government orders not to house or feed any of the protesters. At this time 11 casualties have been reported and without assistance from locals, more are expected to follow. The group continues their journey with limited resources, calling on disabled communities around the world for support.
 
April 1 – Present
The group has now faced several major setbacks. AKIPerDis leader, David Cayo Ali, has been hospitalized. He suffers from paralysis and was unable to continue due to the unpropitious climate and geographical conditions encountered on the journey. In addition, one of the groups major advocates, the famous Bolivian filmmaker, Violeta Ayala, has been accused by the Bolivian government of aiding these protesters in a fight for justice that they insist is ‘not real’. Violeta has also received death threats from individuals on social media that disagree with the protesters and her role in assisting them.
The protesters continue on, despite the adversity and Violeta continues to give #MEAction the latest details on the groups journey. They are now roughly a third of the way through and are pleading with us through Violeta for food and water.
 
AKIPerDis leader, David Cayo Ali, laying in a hospital bed experiencing kidney troubles.
AKIPerDis leader, David Cayo Ali, laying in a hospital bed experiencing kidney troubles.
 
Continued Support
In less than two weeks, members of the #MEAction community supported AKIPerDis by donating over $3,000 toward their $10,000 goal. Without this influx of resources, many more casualties may have well been reported already and the conditions that they are traveling through would have been much less bearable. Now that the group has proven that they will not back down, they are asking that we stand with them and that we don’t back down either. We ask that you do all you can and support these brave individuals in their time of tremendous need. This is not just an issue for Bolivians but it is a big part of an even larger global conversation about treating disabled individuals with respect and equality.
 
Donate now at www.caravanalapaz.org

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