Evo restrained despite US-backed havoc
As Bolivian President Evo Morales continues to show restraing in confronting unrest fuelled by right-wing regional governments and US-backed-opposition movements. After expelling the US Ambassador to Bolivia, Morales has renewed calls for negotiations with the rivaling opposition.
Fri, 12 Sep 2008 21:25:10 GMT Bolivian President Evo Morales has offered negotiations and eschewed an armed clampdown on opposition groups after a third day of violent clashes with some eight people dead. Morales has shown restraint after three days of shootings, beatings, the ransacking of offices and the sabotage of a natural gas pipeline. He told journalists that he was the "first to ban the army and police from using firearms against the population." The government "will keep favoring dialogue, for the dignity and unity of the country, despite provocations" from opposition leaders, Morales said. Talks with the opposition are due to be held at 2000 GMT in the presidential palace in La Paz. Violence erupted following Wednesday's expulsion of US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg who had spoken openly this week in favor of seccesionist movements in eastern Bolivian which is the focus of the unrest. Morales asserts that the US Embassy is supporting right-wing groups from Bolivia's energy-rich eastern provinces who are calling for "autonomy" from the central government. These groups strongly oppose Morales' plans to renationalise sectors of Bolivian industry and redistribute land to the country's poor indigenous majority. Washington's Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has called on the US State Department to "come clean" on the funding that it provides to anti-government groups in Bolivia through organizations such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. "Washington has decided to keep its ties to Bolivia's opposition shrouded in secrecy, and that's not conducive to trust between the US and Bolivian governments," said CEPR Co-Director, Mark Weisbrot. "By providing clandestine aid to groups that are almost certainly in the opposition, it gives the impression that the US is contributing to efforts to destabilize the Bolivian government." Earlier this year, it was revealed that the US Embassy in Bolivia had repeatedly asked Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright Scholar to spy on Bolivians. It has also come to light that USAID has an "Office of Transition Initiatives" operating in Bolivia which funnels millions of dollars to right-wing regional governments and opposition movements. WY/HAR, original source at PressTV,