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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Bolivia: bishop warns of general hunger strike
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¬†A general hunger strike may begin in Bolivia today, in protest at the violence that has erupted across the country, Mgr Tito Solari, Bishop of Cochabamba has warned. Demonstrations over government proposals to export crude natural gas to Mexico and the United States have turned into a popular uprising, which so far has left over 70 people dead and over 400 injured. Speaking to the Missionary News Service last night Mgr Solari said as the hours go by the possibility of a general hunger strike grows, and that numerous personalities have already pledged their support. These include representatives of Manfred Reyes's NFR (New Republican Force), which belongs to the government coalition but has been critical of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada's handling of the crisis. Jaime Solares, leader of COB (Bolivian Workers Central), proposed a "selective hunger strike" to call for the resignation of the President during a crowded popular assembly in St Francis Square in La Paz yesterday, the Italian agency 'ANSA' has said. "The positions are getting more extreme by the hour," Monsignor Solares told MISNA. "The protest is continuing to broaden." The anger of trade unionists, local associations and people grows with reports of new deaths in fresh clashes with the security forces. Meanwhile, the President continues to repeat that he has no intention of resigning. He also has the support of the army, which has shown that it is ready to obey orders. "At the moment the possibility of establishing a dialogue between the parties is remote," said the Bishop of Cochabamba. The mobilisation of numerous sectors, who are now openly calling for President de Lozada to step down, has spread from La Paz, El Alto and the Yungas uplands to the whole country, affecting Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosž e Sucre. Processions of miners, farmers, 'cocaleros' (coca producers) and trades unionists have set off with the aim of reaching the capital by whatever means to call for a change of leadership. Last night the presidential spokesperson Mauricio Antezana warned demonstrators that the army would not allow them to reach La Paz under any circumstance. Foreign minister Carlos Saavedra and Antezana has invited protesters to open negotiations. But the main opposition leader Evo Morales has ruled out this option, saying: "we will not dialogue with Sanchez de Lozada even if the Pope asks us to himself". Source: MISNA
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