Mayor attacked by anti-government mob in Bolivia

Patricia Arce covered in paint.
Patricia Arce covered in paint. Photo credit: Tinformas / YouTube screenshot

A Bolivian mayor has been attacked by an anti-government mob, covering her in red paint, cutting her hair and dragging her through the street.

Bolivia has been rocked by violence after a disputed national election last month, which protestors say President Evo Morales rigged to win.

This week, they took their anger out on Patricia Arce, a member of Morales' ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party.

After rumours two anti-government protesters had been killed nearby, an opposition mob stormed the municipal headquarters in the town of Vinto, Los Tiempos newspaper reported.

Accusing Arce of responsibility for the reported deaths, she was dragged into the street by mask-wearing mob members accusing her of being "murderess". Her hair was cut off and she was covered in red paint before being forced to sign a resignation letter. The town hall was also torched and ransacked.

Arce was eventually rescued by police and taken to a local health centre.

"If they want to kill me, let them kill me," she told reporters after the attack. "I'm not afraid. I'm in a free country."

Morales said in a tweet that Arce had been "cruelly abducted for expressing and defending her ideals and the principles of the poorest".

"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."

One of the anti-government protesters who was killed has been confirmed as 20-year-old student Limbert Guzmán Vasquez. He is the third to die since clashes between supporters and opponents of President Morales began on October 20.