Bolivia’s Morales faces opposition governors

September 19, 2008

Bolivian president Evo Morales and opposition governors held talks on Thursday in attempt to defuse the country’s growing political crisis. The autonomists oppose any equitable redistribution of land and natural resources, and are demanding Morales cancel a referendum on a new constitution that would give Bolivia’s indigenous majority more power, and allow him to run for a second term. Over the last few days at least 30 people have been killed.

Bolivian president Evo Morales and opposition governors held talks on Thursday in attempt to defuse the country’s growing political crisis. The autonomists oppose any equitable redistribution of land and natural resources, and are demanding Morales cancel a referendum on a new constitution that would give Bolivia’s indigenous majority more power, and allow him to run for a second term. Over the last few days at least 30 people have been killed.



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Story Transcript

Bolivian opponents hold fragile talks

ZAA NKWETA (VOICEOVER): Bolivian President Evo Morales and opposition governors held talks on Thursday in an attempt to defuse the country’s growing political crisis. Tensions remained high, and the two sides regard each other with deep mistrust. Autonomist Governor Rubén Costas from the province of Santa Cruz had this to say:

RUBÉN COSTAS, AUTONOMIST GOVERNOR, SANTA CRUZ (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We can’t say much at this point. We all come with great hope of being able to reach that social agreement, that great national agreement, something that we have always supported. The national dialog has lost its value.

NKWETA: The Autonomists oppose any equitable redistribution of land and natural resources and are demanding Morales cancel a referendum on a new constitution that would give Bolivia’s indigenous majority more power and allow him to run for a second term. Over the last few days, at least 30 people have been killed. Troops arrested Autonomist Governor Leopoldo Fernández on Tuesday on charges of genocide, for allegedly organizing an ambush of the president’s supporters.

EVO MORALES, PRESIDENT OF BOLIVIA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I have learned through the media that a legal process against the government of Pando has begun, for genocide. But beyond that, we congratulate the Public Ministry that has finally begun carrying out their obligation to make sure life and national property are respected. Let’s hope this can continue.

NKWETA: Earlier this week in an unprecedented show of support, the alliance of South American nations UNASUR issued a unanimous declaration of support for the Morales government, condemning the Autonomist initiative to make Bolivia ungovernable.

MICHELLE BACHELET, PRESIDENT OF CHILE (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We warn that every government rejects and refuse to recognize anything that implies a civilian coup, a break in institutional order, or anything that jeopardizes the integrity of the national unity in Bolivia.

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