The Constitution Committee in Bolivia has approved a 2024 date to begin the census in the country on Friday, leading to a general strike in the key farming region of Santa Cruz to end after the census guarantee has been made.

The Constitution Committee of the Bolivian Chamber of Deputies approved the new date of the Population and Housing Census for March 23, 2024, with six voting in favor, one voting against, and one abstaining, according to Telesur News.

The approved census project also includes guidelines that will allow the redistribution of tax sharing resources and the reallocation of legislative seats based on the census data to happen in September of that same year, before the general elections in the country at 2025.

Because of the approval and finalization of the census date, a 36-day strike in Santa Cruz was finally called off by local civic leader Romulo Calvo, with regional leaders in the area remaining on standby as lawmakers move to approve the new law, Reuters reported.

Santa Cruz has called for an earlier census in 2023 due to their belief that the Bolivian government was delaying the census in an attempt to put the city at a disadvantage both in legislative seats and in tax revenue despite the general migration of people from regional areas into the city.

The census has been repeatedly delayed from its original date in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as concerns related to incorporating indigenous languages in the census itself, Al-Jazeera reported.

The strike had become a violent and economically-devastating affair, with over $1 billion reportedly lost by Bolivia due to the region’s refusal to work.

Blockades and barricades were built by supporters of the right-wing organization Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, with clashes between protesters and police officers happening as the government attempted to clear the blocked routes. Official numbers stated that four people have been killed during the strike as of Nov. 11, with 42 cases of human rights violations happening since the strike began on Oct. 22.

Bolivian President Luis Arce
Bolivian President Luis Arce addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 20, 2022. Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

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