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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 00:32 GMT 01:32 UK
Bolivian peasants end oil siege
By Elliott Gotkine
BBC correspondent in South America

Peasant farmers in Bolivia have ended an occupation of foreign-owned oil fields after the government promised to speed-up land redistribution.

But in the south of the country, local people continued to block the main road linking Bolivia with Argentina.

Both protests have centred on energy resources, which bring South America's poorest country vital revenue.

The armed forces and the police have been dispatched to guard against further occupations.

Multiple protests

It took the Bolivian government three days to persuade hundreds of landless peasant farmers to end their oil field occupations in the east of the country.

But attempts to end the standoff in the south, around the energy-rich city of Villamontes, are proving trickier.

Local people there have now been blocking the main road to Argentina and Paraguay for some 10 days.

They have also reportedly succeeded in turning off the valves of a foreign-owned gas duct, which provides energy to the nearby city of Tarija.

They say their protest will continue until the government brings them a signed decree, proving that its promise to build them a new highway is real.

Elsewhere in the country, landless farmers have reportedly re-occupied a property belonging to former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

And the Landless Movement is said to be planning a march to Bolivia's main city La Paz, to demand the release of one of its members, accused of taking part in the lynching of a provincial mayor earlier this year.

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Country profile: Bolivia
06 May 04  |  Country profiles

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