The New York Times
April 9, 2000

Bolivia Calls An Emergency After Protest Over Water


          LA PAZ, Bolivia, April 8 -- Bolivia's president declared a state of
          emergency today, fueling a week of widening unrest that left three
          people dead in fresh clashes between police and demonstrators.

          The move came after a week of protests over rising water rates,
          unemployment and other economic difficulties plaguing the Andean
          country of eight million people.

          Thousands of people were involved in the protests, which began in
          Cochabamba, the country's third largest city, but quickly spread
          elsewhere. Today, police used tear gas and rubber bullets against
          demonstrators who battled back with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

          Three protesters were reported killed in separate clashes with police, and
          Government Minister Walter Guiteras said scores of protest leaders were
          detained and confined to San Joaquin, a remote town on the border with
          Brazil, 460 miles from La Paz.

          The body of one of the victims, reportedly shot and killed by police, was
          carried through the streets of Cochabamba, where police seized radio
          stations to prevent independent reporting on the situation.

          In announcing the emergency, the government of President Hugo Banzer
          said that the protesters, who have blocked key roads for days throughout
          much of the country, were threatening democracy. The disruptions had
          already begun to cause food shortages in La Paz and other cities.

          The crisis intensified when officers in four La Paz police units mutinied
          after they were ordered to arrest an officer and 13 officers' wives who
          had gone on a hunger strike to demand higher wages.

          "We find ourselves with a country with access roads to the cities
          blocked, with food shortages, passengers stranded and chaos beginning
          to take hold in other cities," Information Minister Ronald McLean said.

          The state of emergency allows for arrests and confinement of protest
          leaders without a warrant, imposes restrictions on travel and political
          activity and establishes a curfew. It was called for up to 90 days.