Though the frenetic traffic running alongside detracts from its charm, the Plaza San Francisco (being completely redeveloped at the time of writing) is the focal point for the city’s Aymara population and one of the liveliest plazas in La Paz, busy with people enjoying snacks and juices or crowding around the many comedians, storytellers, magicians and sellers of miracle cures who come here to ply their trade. It’s also the usual focus of the city’s frequent political protests, and if you’re in La Paz for more than a few days you’re likely to witness a march by striking teachers, unemployed miners, indebted small traders or whichever social or political group has taken to the streets that week. Such protests are usually colourful pieces of political theatre, but they can sometimes provoke heavy-handed responses from the authorities, and clashes between police and demonstrators involving the fairly unrestrained use of tear gas are not uncommon.

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