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04/03/2008 | Opposition compares Bolivian situation with Yugoslavia

Mercopress Staff

Opposition leaders in Bolivia warned of a “fractured country” and accused President Evo Morales of leading Bolivia in the footsteps of Yugoslavia while calling for “civil resistance” in those provinces that openly reject the constitutional reforms to be voted next May.

 

“They are only looking for a confrontation among Bolivians; these irresponsible characters who speak of unity, are fracturing the country and working overtime to covert us in Yugoslavia”, claimed Ruben Costas governor of Santa Cruz, the country’s richest province and the heart of the autonomy movement.

Former president Jorge Quiroga and leader of the opposition group Podemos said the convening of a referendum to approve constitutional amendments was “a violent attack on democracy”, adding that he would lead an international campaign to denounce “totalitarian attitudes” in Bolivia and call for “civil, peaceful and democratic resistance”.

A government majority this week approved a constitutional review which is described as the “foundation” of indigenous Bolivia but rejected by the rich provinces, plus a bill calling for a referendum on limiting farmland property, supposedly to distribute land among the impoverished Indians.

Opposition members were barred from entering Congress by protesting peasants. Indians and miners, some of whom even exploded dynamite sticks.

A third bill signed by President Morales bans regional referendums to decide on provincial autonomies, an initiative sponsored by the provinces rich in agriculture, oil and gas, who want more of the royalties and taxes returning to their contributors.

“We’re going to guarantee autonomy but in the framework of legitimacy and legality”, said President Morales.

However Costas said there’s “no way we’re stopping the autonomy process in Santa Cruz” while officials from Tarija, Beni, Pando and Chuquisaca indicated they would hold meetings to decide on their autonomy process.

But some groups supporting President Morales warned that if “repression” was needed to stop the autonomies movement, “we’ll go to Santa Cruz and shut them up”, said Andres Villca head of the Miners Cooperatives Federation, a group which actively supports the Bolivian leader and is present in all political rallies promoted by the president.

Mercopress (Uruguay)

 


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