Statement from the Bolivian Ministry of the Presidency

In Front of the Stoppage by the Oligarchy and Conservative Sectors

Today, on this day, civic committees and right wing parties – such as PODEMOS and the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement – have declared a 24-hour stoppage in four of the nine departments of Bolivia: Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando.

In order to guarantee observance of the measure of force, the civic committees counted on financial support from powerful business groups and the infrastructure of the prefectures [governors offices] and local mayoral offices. Those that decided not to join the stoppage were attacked in the middle of the street by pickets organised by the Crucenista Youth Union. The television images showed the violence with which these shock troops for the Santa Cruz civic committee acted, with clear racist conotations against the indigenous peoples.

Such attitudes took the Constituent Assembly to the point of confrontations, resulting in the grave accident of Roman Loayza [who was taken to hospital in a coma after hitting his head from a 3 metre fall].

Nevertheless, despite the intimidation, the resistance in the rural zones and in the poor neighbourhoods of the city against the stoppage was forceful. For the first time, there was a rebelion of the marginalised and excluded, leaded by the regional workers centrals and the neighbourhood and campesino organisations, against the measure of force by the regionalist oligarchies.

The majority of the Bolivian people know that the real objective of this strike is to put a break on the process of change that our country is living through, walking towards a new economic model of social justice and recuperation of its strategic natural resources and towards a new political model of inclusion of the national majorities.

That is why today’s stoppage resulted in a failure for the oligarchical groups. The people of the poor neighbourhoods of the cities, workers, campesinos, transport drivers, street venders, micro-businesses, just like the campesinos and the indigenous people, challenged their authority and no longer recognise them as their spokespersons. The incidents that occurred were the result of wanting to impose by force a stoppage that a large part of the departments that were involved rejected.

The right wing, defeated in two consecutive elections, will attempt to return and impose the veto of the minorities over the new constitution. The conservative sectors want to, through the imposition of a necessary two-thirds majority to approve the articles of the new constitution and declaring the character of the Constituent Assembly as derivative, put a chain around any possibility of refounding Bolivia.

La Paz, September 8, 2006

Ministry of the Presidency

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