Bolivians protest as crisis worsens

Thousands of Bolivians took to the streets yesterday calling for President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to resign and denouncing the government's handling of a deepening economic crisis.

A long column of peasants, farmers and unionists descended on the downtown Plaza San Francisco, shouting anti-government slogans and decrying the military's use of force during last week's riots triggered by an unpopular tax plan. "The president must resign!" and "Long live the Bolivian worker!" they chanted. Shopkeepers protected their storefronts, fearing a repeat of the looting that engulfed La Paz last Wednesday.

Last week's disturbances began when 7,000 police officers seeking a 40 per cent pay rise walked out to protest a government plan for a new tax to reduce the budget deficit, as required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for new funds.

Clashes between government troops and the strikers left 22 people dead and more than 100 injured. Looters ransacked dozens of businesses and torched at least 13 government buildings.

No violence was reported yesterday, the same day as a a nationwide general strike called by leaders of Bolivia's largest workers' union. The strike appeared to have only a limited effect as most businesses remained open.

Juan Melendez Perez, a union leader, led 3,000 demonstrators and called on the government to ignore the IMF's demand for spending cuts. "If the president wants to adhere to those policies, then he must go," he said.

Meanwhile, Sanchez de Lozada met with his top aides over ways to cut government spending. Among the proposals was a reduction in the number of Cabinet positions and a tightening of staff expenses. On Sunday, Sanchez de Lozada, 72, said he would not accept his salary for the remainder of his time in office.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific