Bolivia Sorely Needs Dialogue, Bishops Say

Propose Series of Talks Over Crisis

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

LA PAZ, Bolivia, APR. 30, 2001 ( Bolivia´s Catholic bishops have appealed to the government, labor unions and opposition leaders to enter dialogue to solve a crisis situation centered in the region of Chapare, where coca leaf farmers are blocking a highway and calling for President Hugo Banzer´s resignation.

Government Minister Guillermo Fortún said he is prepared to order the withdrawal of the army and police patrolling Chapare, 580 kilometers (360 miles) southeast of La Paz, to avoid the proliferation of blockades. The blockades are threatened by Evo Morales, a congressman who represents the coca leaf farmers of Chapare.

An episcopal document, signed by Cardinal Julio Terrazas, primate of the Church in this central South American nation of 8.1 million people, calls for the launching of dialogue on topics such as the economic crisis, corruption, constitutional reform, presidential elections, and labor union claims.

«The present crisis has been exacerbated by the government´s failure to fulfill its commitments, [and by] the empty economic model, corruption and the political system´s loss of credibility,» the document states.

The Bolivian Labor Office, the most important organization of workers, announced it will accept the bishops´ proposal. But it said it will not suspend the hunger strike or blockades set to begin Tuesday as a show of support for coca leaf farmers.

Carlos Sánchez, leader of the principal opposition party, Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), said that his party would presently respond to the proposal.

Carlos Calvo, president of the Confederation of Businessmen, said that the Church´s appeal «is the best way to find solutions.»

Last Tuesday, during a day of protest called by transport workers, two civilians died as a result of a police crackdown.

Information Minister Manfredo Kempff stressed that there are labor union demands that cannot be met. Among them he mentioned the president´s resignation and the petition to free the cultivation of coca leaf, prime matter for cocaine.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation