Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Leftist Bolivia leader facing opposition
Word out of Bolivia is that tensions are running high after clashes between supporters of the leftist government of Evo Morales and backers of four eastern states that have declared autonomy from the central government in La Paz. Morales accused the eastern state governors of trying to overthrow the government as supporters of his proposed reforms threatened to march on Santa Cruz, Bolivia's wealthiest city. The government is currently in negotiations with the governors over proposals for wider oil revenue distribution and a proposed new constitution that would give more power to indigenous Bolivians, according to CNN, after clashes earlier this month that killed at least 30. Before leaving for the United Nations in New York, where he was scheduled address the General Assembly, Morales offered a new proposal on revenue sharing and expelled the U.S. ambassador, CNN said. But opposition leaders say Morales is trying to impose an autocratic government. "We don't want a dictatorship or a communist regime," said Anyelo Cespedes, president of the anti-Morales Santa Cruz Youth Union. "We have our way of life, and we don't want that changed." But peasant leader Julian Torricoone said the real argument was whether all Bolivians should share in the country's oil wealth, CNN said. "The fight here is between poor and rich," Torricoone said. "The government of Evo Morales took power by a majority, and now these opposition governors don't want to let him govern." Morales is an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro.