VIOLENCE IN BOLIVIA

war against drugs

Author: ENCOD
Date: Feb 18, 2003
Views: 2141

Since Wednesday 12 February, heavy riots are taking place in La Paz and other major cities in Bolivia. In confrontations between protesting citizens and policemen on one side, and the army on the other, at least 17 are reported dead and another 50 wounded. Several government buildings and offices of political parties that take part in the governing coalition have been assaulted and burned.Y´ The political crisis could lead to new elections, in which coca growers' leader Evo Morales Ayma might have a good chance to win.Last Monday, 10 February, president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada announced an extremely drastic reform of the Bolivian state expenses. Apart from a 10 percent cut in public spending (among others by freezing the wages of state employees), an increase in taxes on wage of 12,5 % was proposed. The measure would have been suggested by the International Monetary Fund as a condition for new loans to Bolivia, the second poorest copuntry of Latin America.Immediately, the announcement met with a wave of protests, contributing to a remarkable alliance between organisations of farmers, workers, entrepreneurs, university students and even the police corps. When policemen came on the streets of La Paz yesterday to protest, the army was called to restore order, and this led to bloody confrontations that have not been seen in Bolivia since the the military coups in the beginning of the 1980'ies. The situation in Bolivia has been characterised by heavy social protests since 13 january, in which the leader of the Bolivian coca leaf producers, Evo Morales, who ended second in the presidential elections of June 2002, played a major role.Y´ Morales, among other opposition leaders, has called for president S·nchez de Lozada to resign from office and call for new elections. In these elections, Morales' party MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) may have good possibilities to win.For more information, visit www.bolivia.com (in Spanish) or contact ENCODhttp://www.www.encod.org

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