Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Teresa Bo, a senior correspondent for Al-Jazeera was sprayed directly in the face—clearly "on purpose," she says—while covering anti-coup demonstrators in the city of La Paz, Bolivia on Friday, November 15, 2019. (Photo: Al-Jazeera/Screenshot)

Teresa Bo, a senior correspondent for Al-Jazeera was sprayed directly in the face—clearly "on purpose," she says—while covering anti-coup demonstrators in the city of La Paz, Bolivia on Friday, November 15, 2019. (Photo: Al-Jazeera/Screenshot)

Police in Bolivia Pepper Spray Journalist 'On Purpose' During Live Coverage of Anti-Coup Protests

"I hate to be the story because we are here to report on what is happening to the people in the amazing country," said Al-Jazeera English senior correspondent Teresa Bo. "I hope it helps denounce that such practices cannot be tolerated. Not here not anywhere."

Jon Queally

Becoming part of the story she was seeking to cover, international news correspondent Teresa Bo was assaulted by Bolivian state security forces on Friday—shot directly in the face, while on camera, with tear gas or pepper spray.

Perpetrated while she was reporting for Al-Jazeera English in the city of La Paz—where ongoing streets protests erupted this week after a coup forced the resignation of the nation's president Evo Morales—the attack on Bo, which occurred while she was giving an on-camera account of the protests, was caught on film.

"I was just thrown tear gas by the police, on purpose," Bo reports in the segment. "This is what is happening in the middle of a plaza where people have been protesting peacefully. A police officer just threw tear gas in my eyes. It is extremely difficult to speak. Very, very sorry."

Despite the pain, Bo continues to report the scene and explains that the nearby protesters were clashing with security forces—who can be seen firing tear gas canisters in the background—in an effort to reach the nearby presidential palace.

While Bo in the immediate aftermath of the attack calls the substance tear gas, many noted that the substance was more likely pepper spray.

The street protests in Bolivia have grown larger and more violent this week, with massive demonstrations in cities across the country on Friday. As Common Dreams reported, security forces opened fire on a large crowd of mostly indigenous protesters in the city of Cochabamba on Friday afternoon sending many hundreds of people fleeing for their lives. Numerous people were reported killed and scores more injured.

The assault on Bo, said U.S. journalist Ryan Grim of The Intercept, revealed the correspondent's "impressive" grit—as she continued with her reporting despite the volatile chemicals burning her face and eyes—but also helped reveal "what's going on" in Bolivia.

In response to the footage, artist and progressive activist Molly Crabapple—with a sarcastic bite at those who have argued that the overthrow of Morales was not, in fact, a coup—tweeted: "The police of the totally not a coup regime in Bolivia sprayed tear gas into a female journalist's face because she was reporting on their violent suppression of anti-coup protests."

"Thanks so much to those who understand we are only doing our job," Bo tweeted after the video of the attack spread, with many thanking her online for her brave journalism.

"I hate to be the story because we are here to report on what is happening to the people in the amazing country," Bo said. "I hope it helps denounce that such practices cannot be tolerated. Not here not anywhere."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Unless Congress Acts, 20 Million People Will Lose Unemployment Aid in Just 41 Days: Analysis

"Democrats should do whatever it takes to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring."

Jake Johnson ·


'Vile': Biden DHS to Turn Away Migrant Families Under 'Expedited Removal' Policy

"This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families."

Julia Conley ·


WATCH LIVE: House Panel Holds First Hearing on January 6 Insurrection

"Over six months later now, it's past time for the public to receive answers on the insurrection, and for those who stoked it to be held to account."

Common Dreams staff ·


Jesse Jackson, William Barber Among Dozens Arrested While Demanding Filibuster Repeal Outside Sinema's Office

"We've got to get these shackles off of our democracy," said Rev. William Barber.

Kenny Stancil ·


Ocasio-Cortez Warns Republicans Are Laying the Groundwork to 'Overturn Results' of Elections

"The time to fight like hell for democracy is right now. We may not get another chance."

Jake Johnson ·