Por (((i))) -
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2003 at 11:10 PM
day of violence in Bolivia
Up and till now 13 people have died in the military repression that made use or war type amunition to control the social conflict. President Sánchez de Lozada announced he would anulate the "impuestazo", the proposed tax rise that resulted in civil war situation of today. Airplanes are flying over the town and it seems more than probable that a curfew is imposed tomorrow to prevent further protests.
And this although Sánchez de Lozada announced the anulation of the "impuestazo". This law was what was needed to provoke the explosion of social discontent and protest, part of this being the strike of the police. Several sectors reclaim that the president renounce. For tomorrow there is a call for a general strike.
Three days ago, when the president Sanches de Lozadas government decreted a tax rise, which means a 10% cutdown on public and private employees salaries. In the already complicated situation of stillstanding negotiations between the government and the "Estado Mayor del Pueblo" the "impuestazo" drove people from the middle class onto the streets and even provoked critique in corporate sectors. The idea had been, following the strict regulations of the IMF, to cutdown on the household deficit. The erradication of Coca, privatisation of gas, the FTAA and other US impositions, had already caused campesino roadblocks that were brutally attacked causing the death of at least 14 people.
This time the protests exploded in the cities. Tuesday night the police special forces (Grupos Especiales de Seguridad) went on strike. There cuartel is at a 150 meters from the presidencial palace. They protested against the cutdown of their salaries and the "impuestazo". Wednesday morning the wives of the police and policemen without uniforms protested. Students of Colegio Ayacucho, protesting against the dismissal of the schools director took advantage of that no police were present and threw stones at the government building called "burned palace" in Plaza Murillo. More and more protesters gathered.
The military in form of its military police viciously cracked down on the protesters, killing various and then moving on to fight the police. The conflict went on all day, also in Cochabamba and other parts of the country. The protesters set fire and ransacked the ministry of employment, the vicepresidency, and the buildings of the parties MIR and MNR, both part of them being part of the government. Some shops were also ransacked.
At 6 pm the president announced that the project to rise taxes had been stopped and ordered the military to retreat. 13 people are reported to have died so far, at least 50 people have been wounded. Evo Morales, of the Movimiento al Socialismo (movement to socialism) and Central Obrera Boliviana (union), amongst others, asked for Sanchez de Losada to renounce. In spite of the troops retreat their are rumours of a curfew and miitary airplanes are circuling the town. For tomorrow there is a call for a general strike.
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