Wry Exchange

Cokes are Served at Protests
11-26-07, 8:10 pm
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 Sparky, his mom, a friend, and I went to a protest in the central plaza this afternoon.  The rally was in support of the city of Sucre.  The rally began as a march, but we just went to the sqare.  People were selling cups of coke with straws from round trays.  It was a very polite, well-run protest.

From Yahoo news-A semblance of order returned to Sucre Monday after four people died in a weekend of violent protests over the constitutional reforms sought by leftist President Evo Morales.Residents removed barricades erected during the weekend clashes that sent the regional governor and the police force fleeing the colonial city of 350,000.   In the absence of a police presence, citizens groups patroled the streets of Sucre, while in New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm.
The Chuquisaca department governor is “recovering from shock,” his spokesman said on Monday. A member of the governing Movement Toward Socialism, Sanchez has come under sharp criticism for staying away from the city during the unrest.
One protester died early Monday after being injured in clashes with police, local officials said. The protests took a violent turn late Saturday when a 29-year-old protester died of a gunshot wound. Another demonstrator and a police officer also were killed in the violence.
In New York, the UN chief urged all sides to refrain from violence.
“In order to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights in Bolivia, the secretary general urges all political and social actors to remain calm, to abstain from using violence and to seek a consensus on the pressing issues affecting the Bolivian people,” his press office said in a statement.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US government deplored the violence and urged the Morales administration and the opposition “to show restraint and tolerance during this critical period.</em
“An environment that encourages inclusion and open debate is vital to the success of any democratic reform process,” the spokesman said.
The protests came as some 150 pro-government delegates to a Constituent Assembly on Saturday approved the outlines of a new draft constitution the opposition rejects.
Opposition lawmakers have boycotted the assembly, accusing Morales of trying to grab more power.
Former Bolivian president Jorge Quiroga, a key opposition figure, claimed the proposed constitution was “drafted in a barracks, written with rifles and bayonets, and stained with the blood of the people of Sucre.”
The protesters also want the legislative and executive branches to be moved from La Paz to Sucre.
Sucre was the symbolic center for the independence movement against Spain in 1809 and lost its central role as the sole capital in the 19th century to La Paz after a civil war.
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, claims the protests were orchestrated by wealthy capitalists.
Like the constitutional changes sought by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — often seen as Morales’s mentor — the reforms would allow the president to seek reelection as often as he wishes.
Morales has said he would put the draft constitution to a referendum, but did not set a date for the vote.
 From Reuters Bolivian President Evo Morales lashed out at his rightist opponents on Monday after violent protests against his constitutional reform plans killed three people in one of the worst crises to hit his government.
Violence exploded on the streets of the southern city of Sucre over the weekend after Morales’ leftist allies pushed through a draft of a new constitution under military guard.
Morales has made rewriting the constitution a pillar of his reform agenda, but the issue has deepened Bolivia’s ethnic and regional divisions. </em
More protests were planned for Monday in opposition strongholds such as the economic powerhouse of Santa Cruz, where anti-Morales protesters have occupied state buildings and called for mass civil disobedience.
“Occupying state offices isn’t democracy, civil disobedience isn’t democracy, and we hope the Bolivian people … identify these traitors, the people who are against the nation and want to damage this process of change,” Morales said as he led a march of union leaders and pensioners pressing the opposition-controlled Senate to pass a state pension bill. </em
Three people were killed in the weekend’s unrest in Sucre, in which demonstrators torched police stations and stormed a jail, freeing 100 inmates. One of the dead was a policeman lynched by mobs of protesters. The other victims were civilians and were apparently shot dead.
Morales, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, took office as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in January 2006, vowing to increase state control over the economy and empower the poor, Indian majority.
One of the former coca farmer’s first measures was to nationalize the natural gas industry, and the draft constitution seeks to give more autonomy to indigenous groups.
Morales’ leftist agenda has angered opponents and protests have raged for days against the assembly.
No fresh violence was reported on Monday in Sucre, and officials were studying an emergency plan to restore order to the city, which lies 435 miles (700 km) south of La Paz.
Rightist opposition leader Jorge Quiroga called on foreign governments to send monitors to Bolivia and warned Morales not to follow “the bad example of Chavez”.
“If the international community is concerned about democracy and the rule of law, it should have observation missions to pacify and evaluate what’s happening,” state news agency ABI quoted Quiroga as saying.
Morales is an Aymara Indian who hails from the poorer Andean west, while his conservative rivals are concentrated in the richer east and especially in the city of Santa Cruz.
His opponents say he is only governing for his Aymara and Quechua power base and many want more autonomy for the regions they govern. They also want to move the seat of government and Congress to Sucre from highland La Paz, a bastion of Morales support.
The draft constitution, which keeps the seat of government in La Paz, was approved mainly with votes from Morales’ party as most opposition representatives boycotted the debates to protest moving the assembly to an army compound. The draft must still go to a referendum before it can take effect.
Bolivia is South America’s top natural gas exporter but it is also one of the region’s most unstable countries and violent uprisings toppled governments in 2003 and 2005.


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remember – It’s not better, It’s not worse, It’s just different. 🙂

Comment by water

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