Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bolivia: Opponents rally behind strike

Bolivian president Evo Morales may’ve kept his post after a recent recall referendum yet his foes have not let up the pressure against him.

Governors of the provinces of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija and Chuquisaca helped stage a 24 hour anti-government strike on Tuesday. The strike virtually shut down all economic activity in those five provinces which are wealthier and more energy-rich than the country’s four other states. Unfortunately, there were some disturbances as strikers and pro-government demonstrators clashed.

Despite the strike, opposition leaders and Morales continue to be staunchly deadlocked and unwilling to cede:

"Our regions need to recover these resources," protest leader Branko Marinkovic told reporters in Santa Cruz before calling Morales "a dictator."

After a recent, failed meeting with the opposition governors, Morales charged they "only want money," while his foes accused him of trying to strangle them financially.

The impoverished country's first indigenous president, Morales draws most of his support from Aymara and Quechua Indians living in the western Andean highlands.

But his political rivals in the wealthier eastern regions, home to the country's vast natural gas reserves and rich farmland, oppose his policies and fear his ultimate goal is to turn Bolivia into a Cuban-style socialist state.

Image- BBC News

Sources- AFP, Xinhua, The Latin Americanist, Reuters UK

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