Thursday, September 11, 2008

Domestic Terrorism Rocks Bolivia

The right-wing opposition has taken to acts of terrorism with anti-government groups attacking government buildings in several Bolivian cities and sabotaging a natural gas pipeline to neighboring Brazil.

Yesterday a gas pipeline attacked by anti-government protestors in the department of Tarija has reduced Bolivia’s natural gas exports to Brazil by as much as 10 percent, or about 3 million cubic meters per day.

In a press conference, Presidential Minister Juan Ramón Quintana and interim president of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), Santos Ramirez, condemned the acts as terrorism and blamed right-wing prefects and civic committees for prompting the attacks.

According to Finance Minister Luis Alberto Arce, repairs to the pipeline could take up to 15 days to fully restore gas shipments to Brazil. Arce said military security for Bolivia’s natural gas operations is being doubled.

Brazil gets half of its natural gas from Bolivia and official statements from Brazil indicate that the nation will have to take emergency measures to counter the shortage.

Ramírez said the decrease in export volumes will cost Bolivia on average, $8 million per day. These costs will be covered by prefects and civic committees that have instigated and supported these attacks.

Parts of the country are already experiencing diesel shortages following weeks of anti-government road blockades that have stalled trade between Bolivia and neighboring Argentina and Paraguay.

Domestic Violence

On Tuesday more than 600 members of the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista (UJC) and other opposition groups - armed with sticks, stones, and explosives - stormed and looted several government buildings in the city of Santa Cruz.

Protesters clashed with the military and police officers who attempted to keep the protestors at bay and prevent looting at the Servicio de Impuestos Internos(Internal Revenue Service) offices, the Governmental Entity for Land Reform (INRA) and state-owned telecommunication company ENTEL.

When the military forces withdrew, the mob looted computers, telephones, televisions and other equipment from the state offices. They also burned documents at the Internal Revenue Service offices and even stole a police motorcycle.

According to the radio station Red Patria Nueva, the UJC members, employees of the prefect of Santa Cruz and COTAS workers attacked military officers while chanting “autonomy”.

Last week, President Morales called for the unity of the Bolivian people against the “civil coup” that threatens the country.

Leaders of the CONALDE group - made up of the opposition prefects of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija and Chuquisaca as well as their civic committee supporters – claim that the only way out of the present conflict is a return of hydrocarbon revenue and an end to the central government’s pursuit of a constitutional referendum vote on December 7.

compiled & derived from various wire services



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