Dialogue Urged in Bolivian Conflict

Pope Makes Plea for Strife-torn Nation

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encourages responsibility and dialogue in resolving the social conflicts that have paralyzed Bolivia.

After praying the midday Angelus today, the Holy Father expressed his closeness to regions of the world that “are experiencing social and political tensions, which in some cases run the risk of resulting in grave conflicts.”

In a special way, the Pope’s thoughts were with Bolivia “and the worrying situation it is living.”

“While I invite you to pray for that beloved nation, I commend to the Virgin my hope and appeal so that the quest for the common good, the sense of responsibility and willingness for open and loyal dialogue will prevail in everyone,” he said.

Massive street protests and road blockades have brought the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, to a virtual standstill since May 16.

The demonstrators are demanding nationalization of the oil industry, and a new constitution that would give indigenous people greater participation in society.

Given the dramatic situation, Bolivian bishops offered to serve as mediators to establish an agenda and initiate dialogue between the authorities and political and labor leaders.

This is the gravest crisis in Bolivia since 2003, when protests aggravated by an oil dispute left 56 people dead and forced the resignation of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada.

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