Bolivians Reject Bush Admin.-sponsored Ultra-Right Violence

9-11-08, 9:34 am

La Paz, Sep 10 (Prensa Latina) Bolivians on Wednesday rejected violent protests in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, and announced actions aimed at forcing a dialogue between the government and the opposition.

Their first action is to block all roads to the Santa Cruz department until local opposition prefects and civic leaders grouped under the umbrella of the so-called National Democratic Council agree to talk with the President Evo Morales government.

According to Eusebio Romero, deputy chairman of the six coca planters federations in Cochabamba, said it was a retaliatory action for the violent protests promoted by Santa Cruz prefect Ruben Costas and local leader Branko Marinkovic.

In response to such provocations and vandalism by the right-wing Santa Cruz Youth Union, we have decided to put up road blocks starting midnight local time Wednesday, Romero told state-run radio station Radio Patria Nueva.

He also called trade unions and indigenous people from the rest of the country to start blocking roads accessing the provinces of Tarija, Beni and Pando, which are also located in the energy-rich east, where many are seeking greater autonomy and some are calling for independence.

Romero also accused the US ambassador to Bolivia, Phillip Goldberg, of masterminding the anti-government protests, so several social organizations, he warned, will request the diplomat be expelled from the country.

President Evo Morales recently said demonstrations against his government are being funded by the United States embassy in La Paz.

The head of the National Coordination for a Change – an umbrella of social organizations – Fidel Surco confirmed they will start mobilizing their members in support of the government.

According to the latest reports, in Santa Cruz, anti-government groups trying to take over a tax-collecting agency, clashed with military police.

In Tarija, protesters occupied an office belonging to the Superintendent of Hydrocarbons. In Beni province, the opposition occupied state telephone company offices and an airport. In some places, road blocks have persisted for 15 days, causing local fuel shortages.

They are demonstrating against Morales' attempts to change the constitution and redirect natural gas revenues to the poor and elderly and redistribute fallow land.

Prensa Latina