Civic stoppage was not a failure, but nor was it a success

The stoppage was felt in the centre of the six capital cities and in some provinces. The government called the strike “partial”, but the organizers considered it a “success”. The Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee convoked for this Thursday a meeting in Sucre.

Santa Cruz/ La Paz August 29 (EFE/Erbol/Agencias) - The government of Evo Morales classified the strike against it in the six Bolivian regions as "partial", but organisers considered it a "success", following a day involving acts of violence and during which the mayor of Santa Cruz asked for the secession of the eastern regions.

The Minister of Government, Alfredo Rada, said yesterday that the stoppage was neither total nor forceful, and was “marked by violence” in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, as well as incidents and blockades of roads, highways and borders in Pando, Beni, Chuquisaca and Tarija.

In the case of Santa Cruz, according to the perceptions of the executive power, the measure had a 60% level of observance, given that in zones such as Plan 3000 and Villa 1o de Mayo, activities occurred with absolute normality.

On the other hand, the prefect of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas, and the president of the Civic Committee of this department where Morales has less support, Branco Marinkovic, congratulated themselves for the success of the protest and classified its as a “historic” day.

The stoppage, according to the government

During the first hours of yesterday morning, confrontations occurred between members of the Cruceñista Youth Union (UJC) and petty traders from the supply market. The incident left two people injured, one who was run over (Miguel Perez, 37 years old) by a vehicle being driven by a member of the UJC, who was later detained by the police together with him accomplice.

Rada said that in the department of Chuquisaca, the civic stoppage was forceful, principally in the city of Sucre where the measure was abided by 80% of the public and private institutions in a disciplined manner, whilst in the provinces the level of observance was 60%.

In the city of Tarija, with the exception of the prefecture, universities and educational units, the rest of the decentralized institutions dependent on the executive power, and the municipal mayor’s office, worked normally, informed the Minister of Government, at the same time affirming that the level of observance in the capital was 50%.

Meanwhile, in the provinces of the department of Tarija, with the exception of Bermejo, activities occurred as normal.

In the department of Cochabamba, said Rada, the capital participated in the measure, carrying out blockades in some places, where confrontations were registered, resulting in one police officer receiving head injuries, when a group of people interrupted vehicle traffic on the Quillacollo bridge.

In the rural areas, only some of the municipalities of the high valley observed the civic stoppage, the rest of the communities complied with their cordial activities in normality, pointed out the authority.

In Cobija, capital of Pando, the passage to
Brazil was blocked, along with various streets, and there were also road blocks in Tarija and Beni, where the stoppage had a majority following, although not total.

Rada signaled that in the case of Trinidad there were three threats of confrontations between groups of civic activists and petty traders in the Campesino and Pompeya markets, but without mayor consequences.

The biggest surprise came from the mayor of Santa Cruz, Percy Fernandez, who proposed creating “another homeland”, to separate the Amazonian eastern regions from the Andean west.

One spokesperson from the Santa Cruz Civic Committee said that Fernandez’s words did not represent the position of the entity who convoked the strike “for the unity of the country and so that this government listens to our demands for it to respect democracy”.

According to this source, this entity hopes that Morales will create a space for dialogue in order to resolve the conflicts in the country, whilst the minister of government sustained that the “violent methods” delegitimised the strike.

The stoppage, which affect two thirds of Bolivia’s territory, did not include the Andean departments and the indigenous majority of La Paz, Oruro and Potosi, where Morales has more support.

The violence left behind injuries, people arrested, destruction and looting, the worst in
Santa Cruz, where militants of the UJC, shock troops for the autonomists, attempted to force observances of the strike including amongst sectors that support Morales.

Rada said that this group is dangerous for “the existence of democracy”, and declared that they would be denounced in front of the attorney general, asking that the civic committee expel the UJC from its shared offices.

In Cochabamba, where a police officer was injured by a rock, protestors interrupted the passage of vehicles from early morning, chanting long live democracy and “death” to Morales and Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.

“A sovereign, not Venezuelan,
Bolivia… Death to the dictatorship of Evo Morales” they chanted a day after the president and the opposition accused each other of receiving foreign support, on one side from the US and on the other from Cuba and Venezuela.

The government accused the opposition and the civic movements that promoted the strike of defending “the privileges of the oligarchy” and of being racist.

The attacks in Santa Cruz were primarily committed by autonomist youth.

According to Rada, 11 people were detained, 3 in Santa Cruz and 8 in Cochabamba, amongst them Daniel Ruiz Arapo, a 20 years old, who’s US nationality figured on his identity card.

Translated from La Jornada

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