Social movements lift blockades, but continue to demand resignation

Telesur, January 12

In an exclusive interview with Telesur, Bolivian Minister for Social Movements, Alfredo Rada, informed on Friday that campesino sectors that have been demanding the resignation of Cochabamba prefect, Manfred Reyes Villa, have begun to lift road blockades that have blocked off the city from other departments.

The situation in the city of Cochabamba was returning to normality, after social movements on Friday decided to lift their measures of pressure against the prefect of the department, Manfred Reyes Villa.

“We think this decision to lift the road blocks is a satisfactory one, we consider that the popular mobilisations have demonstrated that they have the grand backing of the people of this department and we think that the right wing represented by Reyes Villa in the prefecture has been put into a corner and are at a crossroads where the prefect needs to make a decision as to whether he will resign or not” explained Rada.

Telesur journalist in Bolivia, Freddy Morales confirmed the minister’s information, adding that tickets had begun to be sold for the hundreds of citizens who found themselves stranded due to the blockades that had been affecting Cochabamba.

For his part, prefect Manfred Reyes Villa, held a meeting in Santa Cruz with four of his colleagues also opposed to the government of Evo Morales, and the cardinal Monsenor Julio Terraza, who he asked to help mediate with the government and social movements. Nevertheless the prefect Reyes Villa made it clear that he would not present his resignation.

Minister Alfredo Rada announced that the political parties of the right in Bolivia had been evaluating the situation, including stating that they did not support prefect Reyes Villa in his plans to maintain an intransigent position, opposed to dialogue and seeking political agreements to help restore tranquillity for the people of Cochabamba.

The minister warned that “there were threats to take the conflict to other departments, but these postures by business owners and civic committees will not have the majority support of the citizens”.

Referring to the popular town meeting that was held in the principal plaza of Cochabamba, he left it clear that “no authority, be they prefecture, national or municipal is untouchable and all the authorities need to subordinate themselves to the verdicts of the population”.

At the same time he saw as positive the proposal to take to the constituent assembly that is meeting in the city of Sucre the suggestion of democratic recall of authorities.

Minister Rada corroborated that the government had made decisions aimed at re-establishing security through the responsible and preventive actions of the public forces.

He assured that “we have guaranteed attention to those people who have been injured by the attacks perpetrated by civic activists against groups of campesinos who were carrying out a vigil soliciting the resignation of prefect Manfred Reyes Villa”.

President Evo Morales has order the minister of the presidency, Juan Ramon Quintana and the minister of health, Nila Heredia, to go to Cochabamba to make the necessary decisions to guarantee the protection of public patrimony and private property.

Morales announced that he would include in the legal norms of the country a recall referendum for all authorities elected by votes and by doing so, avoid confrontation like those that occurred in Cochabamba.

The proposed law to carry out recall referendums would include the president of the republic, prefect and mayors.

“In the case of the departments and at the national level” recall referendums could be put forward in cases of violations of human rights and acts of corruption. Another cause that could motivate the use of referendums would be not carrying out election promises at the national, prefectural and municipal level.

“We will put forward this proposed law to resolve the clash of legality and legitimacy at the different levels of administration of the state” assured the Bolivian president.

Meanwhile, the social movements are maintaining the vigil in the historic area, in the centre and the principal plaza as a way of continuing in struggle until Prefect Reyes Villa announces his resignation.

Translated from Telesur

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