Resistance to communist ready to explode in Bolivia


ENTERING the tiny sun-drenched two-storey Spanish colonial building in the capital of the energy-rich Bolivian province of Santa Cruz, it is difficult to imagine that this is the epicentre of preparations for armed struggle – and possible civil war – ahead of the region's forthcoming and hugely controversial autonomy referendum on Sunday.

"We are ready to respond to any provocation. The government wants to implement a copy of Cuban socialism and is encouraging violence through its social groups, but we'll not tolerate this," David Sejas, 34, the president of Santa Cruz's Juvenile Union, told The Scotsman, claiming that his organisation, whose headquarters is located in this quaint building, has 85,000 well-trained, mostly former military, members.

War rhetoric is growing in the final countdown to Santa Cruz's unilateral autonomy referendum, which is expected to be approved by a huge margin, the first of four in the regions that make up the better off and ethnically European eastern half of the country.

An autonomy leader of this region rich in farmland and gas reserves went as far as saying that a "new republic" will be born on Sunday – further angering Evo Morales, the country's first-ever indigenous Indian president, who denounces the referendum as an illegal attempt by a rich minority of European descent to hold on to their privileges and undermine the rights of the majority poor Indians mostly living in La Paz and the central highlands.

Indians make up about 60 per cent of the population and Mr Morales has won support with his drive to nationalise Bolivia's natural resources and rewrite the constitution, giving greater power to indigenous groups.

"It is discrimination. If they call me animal, stupid, what would they be calling the population?" Mr Morales said recently in New York, adding that the Santa Cruz referendum is illegal and will change nothing.

Things like this happen when the government tries to take away private property. Without respect for property rights, there will be little respect for the government. Morales is a Chavez puppet who wants to do for Bolivia what Castro did for Cuba, i.e. make it very poor. I think the US should support the independence movement before Morales can complete his theft.


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