5 More Die in Bolivia Protests After Emergency Is Declared
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LA PAZ, Bolivia,
April 9 -- Protests and police mutinies that have
left eight people dead continued in cities around Bolivia today, after
the government's declaration of a state of emergency this weekend
inflamed anger over the country's worsening economic troubles.
centered in Cochabamba, the country's third largest city,
where a wave of protests over government plans to raise rates for
drinking water began a week ago.
angry farmers regrouped on the outskirts of the city and in
the main square today, a day after the police battled demonstrators with
tear gas and rubber bullets.
a serious confrontation, the government flew in soldiers from
other parts of the country. No serious clashes were reported.
Most of the violence
took place in the Andean foothill town of
Achacachi, in the west, where five people were killed as soldiers tried to
remove roadblocks that have disrupted transport in much of the country
for nearly a week.
The farmers there
took over and ransacked government buildings as
troop reinforcements were sent in this afternoon to try to control the
two soldiers and a police officer were killed today, a
government spokesman, Ronnie MacLean, said. Eight people have died
since the weekend.
in antigovernment action was unexpected and reflected
Bolivians' disgust over rising water rates, unemployment and other
economic difficulties plaguing the Andean country of eight million people.
The economic crisis was blamed in part on the government's war on
of more than half of the country's coca-leaf production
has left thousands of Quechua and Aymara Indian farmers without a
livelihood and depressed the economy in regions where cocaine
trafficking once thrived.
Leaders of the
coca farmers helped organize the protests that have
paralyzed Cochabamba since last Monday.
too have felt the economic pinch, and today hundreds of
officers in La Paz and Santa Cruz, the second largest city, took over their
own headquarters and jails and demanded a 50 percent increase in pay.
The strike turned violent in La Paz, with police officers firing tear gas at
soldiers, who fired their automatic weapons in the air.
In both cities
the strikes were over in hours, with the police winning their
salary increases. No violence was reported in Santa Cruz, but the army
was called in to control the streets of that eastern city.
provisions, the government is allowed to arrest and
confine protest leaders without a warrant, impose restrictions on travel
and political activity and establish a curfew. In Cochabamba, authorities
took control of the city's radio stations to prevent independent reporting.
Today a commission
headed by Vice President Jorge Quiroga was en
route to the city to try and negotiate an end to the conflict, Mr. MacLean