Popular Armed Defense Called for in Bolivia

La Paz September 21 (Granma).-- The Bolivian government has urged small farmers to take up arms if necessary in defense of the ongoing process of change occurring in the country since Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous president, took office in January of this year.

The government's move to recuperate the country's hydrocarbon reserves from foreign interests, new education and healthcare programs, an agrarian reform, and hopes that the currently convened Constituent Assembly will draft a new more inclusive constitution have been met with resistance from privileged sectors of society.

On Wednesday, acting President Alvaro Garcia addressed the need for the peasant population to be on guard when speaking in the town of Warisata during the commemoration of the third anniversary of the first six deaths of the killings ordered by former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to crack down on a social protest.

Garcia, who years back joined an armed indigenous group operating in the zone, said the rural population should be ready to defend the nationalization of Bolivia's hydrocarbons.

The vice president said that if necessary, they will take up the fight 50 or 60 times until the oil companies, speculators and criminal politicians that have plundered the country pay attention.

The call comes amid stepped-up conflict and pressure by conservative, regional and other opposition forces demanding that the Constituent Assembly decisions be made by a two-thirds vote.

Translated from Granma (Cuba)

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