The New York Times
April 9, 2000

5 More Die in Bolivia Protests After Emergency Is Declared


          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.

          Tensions were 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.

          Thousands of 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.

          Anticipating 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 farmers, two soldiers and a police officer were killed today, a
          government spokesman, Ronnie MacLean, said. Eight people have died
          since the weekend.

          The escalation 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
          cocaine trafficking.

          The destruction 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.

          Police officers 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.

          Under emergency 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