Governor of Cochabamba asks for Evo’s resignation, the government calls for protests to overthrow Reyes Villa

Pablo Stefanoni, La Paz

In the midst of growing political tensions in Bolivia, the governor of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa – bitter enemy of the national government – unleashed a new political problem when he called for the resignation of Evo Morales. Reyes Villa accused the head of state of “having pushed Bolivians towards regional division and of sowing hate between so-called indios and q’aras (white-mestizos)”. The government immediately counterattacked, calling on campesino groups aligned with MAS to come out on the streets and bring down Villa.

The war of words further rarefied the conflictive political climate in the country, already greatly agitated by the fight between the government and opposition in the Constituent Assembly convoked to draft up a new constitution, and by regional demands for autonomy by the wealthiest departments.

“Today we have more than 28 fallen Bolivians as a consequence of the logic of confrontation and the risk that there will be hundreds more”, declared Reyes, who governs the third most important department of Bolivia, evoking the spectra of a civil war in his attacks against Evo Morales, who has been president for 20 months.

Presidential spokesperson, Alex Contreras, immediately responded that Reyes Villa “never served the democratic system” and recalled his role during the dictatorship of Luis Garcia Mesa in 1980 and his participation in the administration of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, deposed by a popular uprising on October 17, 2003, at the cost of more than 60 dead. “The people elected Evo Morales Ayma with 54% of the vote to govern the country for five years. That people must come out now and respond against this attack”, said the spokesperson for the presidential palace.

But even the head of the opposition, Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga, considered the demand made by Reyes Villa as “unfortunate and not very intelligent”. “We reject this call because of our strict abidance and respect for democracy, despite our profound differences with the management of the president, which suffocates democracy, attacks freedom and puts at risk national unity and sovereignty” said the right wing ex-president.

For his part, the MAS deputy Jorge Ledezma and the mayor of the city of Quillacolla, which neighbours Cochabamba, Hugo Miguel, announced the mobilization of 38 municipals to reject the declarations by the government, who the left has had in their sights for a while now because of his undisguised alliance with Santa Cruz. Once again, the shadow of the confrontations hand over the city, just like those in January, between campesinos looking to depose him and urban groups that came out to defend him, leaving 2 dead – one from each “gang” – and others with “blood in their eyes”.

Some attempts at confrontations between opposition youth and government supporters were registered last Tuesday in the middle of the stoppage organized in six Bolivian provinces “in defense of democracy”, which had a partial observance and incidences of violence, above all in Santa Cruz, where the Cruceñista Youth Union broke windows, punctured tyres and looted shops to force compliment with the strike.

Meanwhile, the governor of Chuquisaca and MAS militant, David Sanchez, resigned from his position in the midst of the tense climate resulting from the demand emanating from Sucre – capital of this department – to once again becoming the seat of the legislative and executive powers, like it was before the Federal War of 1899. Last Thursday, Sanchez resigned his position, pointing out that he was not willing to be co-responsible for “confrontations that could provoke the dead of Bolivians”. The government said “he is reflecting” over Morales’ request to not abandon the boat in the middle of the storm. Confrontations last week between police and protesters left 29 injured, in an escalation of conflict that has provoked the de facto closure of the constituent assembly.

Translated from Clarin


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Anonymous said...

I watch with great interest, and hope as these events unfold, as I believe that the MAS movement has an importance to us all,as i equate indigency with political disenfranchisement. Finding our voices is essential,at a time when it can be dangerous to tell the truth.

However, a word of caution. As I see the mass protesting going on, it reminds me that Democracy that employs violent and uncontrolled ranchor as a tool is putting every gain at risk. Democracy must not devolve into mob rule. For sucess to be had, we must prove that we are the more civilized and all-inclusive, eshewing the higher principles. We must never allow ourselves to become that which we so dislike in the behavior of others, for then we have become ourown enemies.Please take heart; do not destroy everything and everyone you love. It is not in harmony with the cause of justice.

Bolivia Rising