Opposition leaders in Bolivia pledge further protests against a new draft constitution, after a one-day strike Nov. 28 closed banks, schools and public transportation in six of Bolivia’s nine departments. The strike was most successful in Santa Cruz, where opposition leader Branko Marinkovic has announced an indefinite hunger strike to protest what he calls the “breakdown in democracy.” President Evo Morales accused: “The strike… is against this process of change, the new economic model, against the nationalization of natural resources. At heart, it’s about defending the neoliberal model that has done so much harm to the country.” The Cuban agency Prensa Latina said the strike was enforced by violent and often drunken mobs who attacked those who defied it, with such scenes reported in Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and Trinidad (capital of Beni department). In Riberalta, Beni, offices of the ruling Movement towards Socialism (MAS) were destroyed. (BBC, Prensa Latina, Nov. 29)
Beni’s Gov. Ernesto Suárez upped the ante by accusing the Morales government of secretly importing weapons from Venezuela. Charging that planes landing from Venezulea were filled with “heavy boxes” with “unknown contents,” Suárez announced he is closing Beni’s airports to Venezulean flights—and warned of new “clashes” if the central government tries to force his hand.
Morales’ government denied the claims. Spokesman Alex Contreras told EFE that the government “is officially ruling out” the entry of Venezuelan weapons. He branded Suárez’s claims as a “smear campaign” and “demonization” of Venezuela. (El Universal, Venezuela, Nov. 29)
Our last post on Bolivia.