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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Bolivia crisis: Your reaction
A demonstrators throws a tear gas canister back at riot police officers during clashes in La Paz, Bolivia
The head of the Supreme Court Eduardo Rodriguez has been sworn as interim president of Bolivia following the resignation of Carlos Mesa.

The move breaks a deadlock which had seen huge protests and one death, as demonstrators objected to the possibility of the Senate speaker Hormando Vaca Diez becoming president.

There is now a hope that early elections can be called in an effort to restore calm to the country, after a month of protests over the handling of Bolivia's gas reserves.

Will the change of president bring an end to the protests? Have you witnessed the violent clashes between protestors and security forces?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

I hope this is only the beginning, the winds of change are getting stronger
Carlos Flores, Canada
A long overdue reaction by the Bolivian people against the manipulation of the local ruling elites and their CEO masters, many more Bolivians are needed in the world to denounce the charades and farcical shows known as "representative democracies", which are neither. I hope this is only the beginning, the winds of change are getting stronger. There cannot be peace as long as people are hungry, while a group of privileged nations robs them with impunity, enough!
Carlos Flores, Canada

The indigenous majority in Bolivia is on the move and I wish them success. I hope the US and UK governments who prefer the poor of the world to act as victims for their charity (see UK's attitude to Africa in recent weeks), will not interfere in this historic march on the Indians of Bolivia.
John P, Birmingham, UK

It appears that the only country in South America that stills wants to allow the USA to dictate its economic policies is Colombia. When will Colombia wake up and get its act together?
Gary Chiles, Wellington, New Zealand

These protests overlook one of the most serious casualties of this crisis, the poor. Many rural Bolivians are conscripted against their will by "peasant leaders" eager to trade their suffering for political gain. Penalizing those who don't block roads by shutting off access to water (Machacamarca, Oruro) or charging $10/day missed is not democracy. It's extortion.
Matt, Davis, USA

I think it amazing that passive resistance was successful in Bolivia and it is encouraging for the rest of world. More countries should stand up for resource sovereignty and equal voice in politics. Be sure however, that if the natives had been for international resource exploitation, they would have been armed to the teeth by the West.
Gordon Brown, Gainesville, FL, USA

This presidential change does not solve anything. He will not be able to do any nationalization due to pressure from the multinationals, World Bank, US government etc. Therefore, peoples' dissatisfaction will still be present and ready to exploit.
Sergio Gonzalez, Stuttgart, Germany

The indigenous people must be educated.
Mike, Jupiter, USA
The protest is now on standby. However, democracy is at risk. The free market system is the engine of democracy and very competitive. How do you expect uneducated indigenous people to compete with the highly educated, wealthy elite of Bolivia. The indigenous people must be educated, so they can compete for jobs and have the skills to start their own businesses. Also, are the indigenous people prepared to work in offices and cubicles? It would be beneficial for Bolivia to study the flight of the indigenous people of Australia. Morales and the ideas of socialism will benefit the indigenous people on short term basis, but will ultimately discourage foreign investment and the necessary technology to handle the gas reserves.
Mike, Jupiter, USA

Re: comments from John in Paris. The countries that profit mostly off of Bolivian gas are Argentinean and Brazilian, not US. The problems in Bolivia stem from corruption and the greediness of the people in power not George Bush and US companies. Bolivia is a sovereign country; let them choose their own fate without intervention from the west.
Peter, Monterrey, Mexico

Those who have money and think that the natural resources present in the world belongs to them because they can more easily extract it, will always be against nationalisation. We have seen this the world over. I certainly hope that Bolivia's resources will be used primarily for its own population, not by trickle-down economic theories pontificated by the wealthy.
Clive, USA

I think it is absolutely unrealistic to believe that nationalising gas reserves will solve, even partially, the massive problems that Bolivia faces. As the poorest country in Latin America, I think the solution goes in the opposite direction. Bolivia should be eager to attract foreign investment in order to upgrade its infrastructure, education, health system, etc. The key here is to attract them wisely and learn in the process, so Bolivians get trained on how to compete efficiently in the international marketplace. Foreign investment in the past was erroneously carried out as all the money was taken out of the country. However, there are numerous examples where foreign investment has been achieved successfully, including mine. I believe this is the one opportunity Bolivia has for a brighter future.
Felipe, Santiago, Chile

The rule of law has always been missing in Bolivia. Tyranny of the majority is what happens when pure democracy is left unchecked by law. A large group with no good ideas other than 'nationalization' derails the Constitution and duly elected government. Nationalization WAS already in place for decades before private enterprise was allowed back into the oil business in the 1996. How can people forget the massive corruption and inefficiencies that the national oil company, YPFB, that led to allowing private parties to participate again? And now you want to go back to that? As a Bolivian (now US Citizen), I think that education and investment in the national infrastructure is the true way to progress, not handing the oil exploration, distribution, and revenue to govt. cronies and bureaucrats.
Ricardo Yepez, Houston, TX

To understand the situation here you need to live here. The recent unrest and the resultant resignation of the president has been seen many times before. The situation remains the same. If the international community wants to help then give Bolivia money to build schools and train teachers for the majority indigenous population. This country like most in South America is rich by nature's hand but has suffered from lack of development, profiteering and outside interference since it became independent nearly 200 years ago. Nothing much has changed. I get the feeling that many outside South America do not want this region to the world to reach its true potential. Bolivia was plundered of its gold silver and tin and did not benefit the people and now the gas could go the same way.
Ian, Cochabamba Bolivia

Bolivia is in a catch 22 situation
Heather, Cochabamba, Bolivia
Bolivia is in a catch 22 situation. Should it nationalise its resources, the International Monetary Fund withdraws aid which Bolivia relies heavily on. If not, this is what happens. People get shot and killed in the streets when the people rise up. I don't blame Mesa for resigning one bit.
Heather, Cochabamba, Bolivia

There is not enough money nor skilled people needed to industrialize the gas. It is very easy to say nationalize the gas, but then what? We desperately need foreign investment. Furthermore, if we nationalize the gas, the country will be facing a number of law suits by the foreign firms. We have enough financial problems, we cannot afford more law suits.
Carlos Francisco Fernandez, La Paz, Bolivia

Give the people access to their countries own resources and abolish the Neo Liberal mindset that is leaving them oppressed. I believe Bolivia and indeed all of Latin America should look to the reforms that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is implementing for a good example of what can be achieved.
Richard Knight, Wellington, New Zealand

I believe that the protests have gone on long enough and this latest violence shows what a truly destabilizing event this is. I believe the army should temporarily take control to restore order, disperse the violent protestors, allow Congress to meet and respect the Constitution, and move forward in a democratic manner. Any deviation from this plan will only further embolden the protestors and lead to civil war.
Esam, Congers, USA

A vote is more powerful than a bullet
Davie Hara, Blantyre, Malawi
Elections should be held without taking much time. Let the ordinary Bolivians speak through votes and their decision should be respected. A vote is more powerful than a bullet.
Davie Hara, Blantyre, Malawi

The people deserve to be given the freedom to choose how their natural resources are used. Bolivia needs massive investment in education, health care, infrastructure and social care. The people need to be able to trust their elected representatives.
Adrian Flude, Sheffield, UK

Bolivia is just another livid example of where the God given natural resources have been used to the injury of the people. But unlike in my country, Nigeria, where the people have no voice, the Bolivian people have spoken and the results far fetching.
Mike Amunde, Abuja, Nigeria

It is good that ordinary Bolivians have that kind of clout. This 'new leader' is probably just to placate them. Why don't we ever see ordinary people in positions of 'power'?
Kaye, NYC, USA

Years of political abuse and mixed with radical leaders are bringing the country to a complete collapse
Christian Conesa, La Paz, Bolivia
It's sad to see what is happening to our country. Years of political abuse and mixed with radical leaders are bringing the country to a complete collapse. Do we need a civil war for us to correct the wrongs and live in peace and harmony?
Christian Conesa, La Paz, Bolivia

Dignity and equality of the indigenous people is a priority. Have you seen how non or semi-indigenous people treat to the indigenous, specially in La Paz? That's not right and Bolivia needs a change of mentality. The natives have been exploited too much and now we see the consequences. Bolivia needs a radical change and it will take generations. As a heterogeneous nation, it will be difficult but it's never late to start. Education is part of the solution.
Martin Mull, Trondheim, Norway

If Bolivia doesn't get through this crisis, the country will split into two. Snap elections and a new constitution establishing a parliamentary democracy would be step in the right direction. Efforts must be made to strengthen the judiciary and make it less prone to corruption.
Bob, USA

One of the reasons Bolivia is so poor, besides the corruption and unequal division of wealth that is common throughout South America, is that the country has had difficulty with international trade since it lost access to the sea during the War of the Pacific in 1879. The problems Bolivia is facing now are a culmination of unfortunate historical events that cannot be reconciled in a short period of time, and this is something many of the protestors, and probably some of Bolivia's bureaucrats, fail to realise.
Jonathan Bayl, Sydney, Australia

I can tell you that the most dangerous course of action for Bolivia is to lean further to the left and give in to demands to nationalize energy and create a more severe social society and economy. Doing this will turn Bolivia into a stagnant country with no hope for advancement out of South America's already stagnant economic and social arena.
Brian Kavanagh, Colorado springs, CO, USA

As a Bolivian born, it pains me to see that predictions I made in 1985 (when I left for good) were right all along. Bolivia is as unmanageable as it is naturally beautiful. The education the population has received is that government is the answer to all problems. In Bolivia's case government has been the only problem. Corruption, lack of patriotism, and an indigenous population that has no intention to join the 21st century.
Simon Bedoya, Austin, Texas, USA

I doubt these protests will bring stability
Ronit Epstein, Bolivian in Israel
It hurts me to see my country in such turmoil. However, I always saw this as being the inevitable future of Bolivia. The indigenous people were eventually going to stand up and demand that their rights be respected and an end to the segregated system that exists in the country. Unfortunately I doubt the effects of these protests will bring stability. If anything, Bolivia will sink further into poverty and so will its population.
Ronit Epstein, Bolivian in Israel

Bolivia needs the administration of an international organisation, supported by the national armed forces, police and the national Congress, to analyse the economic problems and to try to tackle unemployment and social displeasure until Bolivians choose the correct representatives.
Eduardo Marín, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Bolivians on all sides need to learn that democracy does not just involve listening to the demands of your powerbase but requires some level of tolerance and compromise. The country has for centuries been run inefficiently by a small elite for their own interests, at the expense of a large proportion (mainly indigenous and rural) of the population that lives in poverty. It seems that various radical leaders have tapped into this potential power base, though I fear for their own ambitions. All the protests are being funded from somewhere.

Many of the "protesters" are there under duress, having been threatened with fines, having their houses torched or businesses damaged. I have seen marchers attacking street stallholders and vehicles of those who live on what they earn day-by-day and have to work to be able to feed themselves. Until there is a serious change of attitudes from leaders on all sides I find it hard not to agree with many Bolivian friends that their country is almost ungovernable.
James, British resident in La Paz, Bolivia

Protesters know what they are asking for and they are fair demands
Mery Portillo Prieto, La Paz, Bolivia
People who haven't been living in the country for at least the last year should not comment on what should or should not be done. Protesters do know what they are asking for and they are fair demands. The Congress is not helping achieve solutions and the best way to solve this is to call for general elections. If any person is embarrassed to be Bolivian then he/she should leave the country.
Mery Portillo Prieto, La Paz, Bolivia

There is not enough money or skilled people needed to industrialise the gas. It is very easy to say nationalise the gas, but then what? We desperately need foreign investment. Furthermore, if we nationalise the gas, the country will be facing a number of lawsuits by the foreign firms. We have enough financial problems, we cannot afford more lawsuits.
Carlos Francisco Fernandez, La Paz, Bolivia

There are two sides to every story. In this case, while 62 per cent of Bolivians are of indigenous extraction, 48 per cent are educated people who realise these protests serve to simply tear the country apart. While the protesters have a valid point, is intentionally destroying the infrastructure of the country really the way to initiate a dialogue to resolve the crisis?
David, La Paz, Bolivia

There are no immediate solutions to all the lasting problems
Julia M, Bolivia
What I do not see in any of the news coverage is the fact that the indigenous people protesting are not following any laws. They make their presence known with dynamite and other weapons, trying to "persuade" or "force" the Congress and Senate to decide things with pressure. This conflict has to be resolved not by force, which is what these groups want. They pretend to be the voice of the people, but they aren't! I am a Bolivian citizen, working hard for the country, and what they are trying to do is disrupt the country and ask for immediate solutions. There are no immediate solutions to all the lasting problems.
Julia M, Bolivia

What country in the world fights to keep investors away when you have the second largest reserve of natural gas in the world? How pathetic. I am disgusted and embarrassed to be a Bolivian right now.
Embarrassed Bolivian

We do not need any new political alliances, we need new elections
Jorge Cruz, Atlanta, USA
Embarrassed Bolivian: You know nothing of the history our ransacked country. For all of the gold, silver, and tin that has been exploited by foreign groups, Bolivia should be enjoying a decent infrastructure in roads, education, and health care. Most recently, since the early 90s and for about 10 years, Bolivians allowed the country's assets to be sold, not to the highest bidder but for cents on the dollar, and to their foreign friends. All of this with the mask of attracting real investors. At the same time though, this is not the time to make unreal demands that everything should be nationalised. What we need is new elections and a majority rule. We do not need any new political alliances, we need new elections.
Jorge Cruz, Atlanta, USA

As a Bolivian living in the US I've been following these events very closely. While the main cause is extreme poverty, I believe one crucial factor has been the bad leadership that has always existed. Those leading the indigenous majority, take advantage of the lack of education and information among that group. The great majority of people currently protesting in the streets of La Paz have little or no understanding of what 'nationalisation' means but they still ask for it, because if they don't, they will be punished by their leaders.
Gabriel Antelo, Johnstown, PA, USA

Is calling for new presidential elections the real solution to this problem? The unrest is mainly due to people: a) asking for economic reforms, Bolivians want their country to be more like Western Europe and less like the US, and b) asking for political reform, Bolivians want what South Africans fought for and finally got with Nelson Mandela. In short, Mesa's latest move looks more like a smokescreen than a sincere gesture to resolving the crisis.
A Flanigan, Champaign, IL US

As a Bolivian in South Africa I find the comments of A Flanigan totally off the mark regarding Nelson Mandela. The main cause of the problem is Mr Morales, a populist leader who, in my opinion, exploits his impoverished and uneducated supporters to further his political agenda. Nationalising the massive amounts of natural gas won't relieve poverty or educate the uneducated. It will actually encourage corruption and poor governance. Exporting this gas however will bring in much needed investment and income which will contribute to eradicating poverty and its effects.
Diego, Pretoria, South Africa

Give the citizens what they want. Nationalize it and keep greedy big oil and gas business reigned in.
Gary Frost, Smyrna, TN, US

They want rights to what has traditionally been taken from them
Erik Cooke, Washington, DC
Bolivia is a country that has long been exploited. For most of those who are protesting, this is the first time that they have influenced their country's course. Any lasting solution will include mechanisms by which they can meaningfully participate in government - a new president won't solve the impasse. They want rights to what has traditionally been taken from them - their land and their power.
Erik Cooke, Washington, DC

Living in a western, post industrial nation, I often hear my fellow citizens discussing the problems found in developing nations such as Bolivia. We wonder, what can be done for the people in these nations who suffer poverty and civil unrest. The citizens of Bolivia are showing us what we can do! Let them determine their own fate, and furthermore let them control what they do with their vast energy reserves. The amount of money their nation could make from exploiting its natural gas reserves could propel them from a developing nation, to a major player in the global economy. This is obviously what the citizens of Bolivia want. It is their country. To deny them this authority in the interest of foreign profits would be a heinous injustice.
Lucas Anderson, Austin, TX United States of America

I'm scared for my grandparents who live in La Paz, and who knows how the current problems of Bolivia can be resolved! Education issues take years to resolve, and Bolivia needs action now. This is truly a problem which both sides are not right, and there needs to be a use of compassion by both sides in order to find a middle ground.
Jason Sergio Villanueva Jacobs, Dallas, TX

It is time for them to achieve the equality Che envisioned for them
Nasreem Glover, Washington DC
Those Bolivians are the epitome of a dispossessed, exploited people and it is time for them to achieve the equality Che envisioned for them so many years ago.
Nasreem Glover, Washington, D.C.

The ideal solution for the problem would be to call for elections and accept the winner. However, lack of education, the weakness of the political parties and large scale corruption compromise any real hope. The misinformation of the indigenous people is sad, and very dangerous. Their so-called 'leaders' have led them to believe that not selling the countries natural resources is the solution. Changes in the leadership are very necessary, both in the political parties as well as for the farmers and miners.
DRM, Tarija, Bolivia

What is happening in Bolivia is the result of years of racism and corruption from the rich oligarchy that inhabits the highlands of the country. Today, Mesa and his associates are trying to tell everybody that those Indian farmers and other organized groups in eastern and southern Bolivia are to blame for the current situation. Why they don't tell just the true and assume all the responsibility.
Tarija, Wichita, Kansas

The situation in Bolivia has become a power struggle between the indigenous people and the people who want to grab power
SN, La Paz, Bolivia
The 500 years of atrocities against the indigenous people have now backfired against the land owners and politicians. Now the situation in Bolivia has become a power struggle between the indigenous people (Aymara, Quechua and Guarani) and the people who still want to grab power. A country with over 60% living in poverty cannot continue with the corrupt activities of the traditional politicians. The poor are tired of being poor. If you visit the villages, the real Bolivia can be seen - no electricity, no water supply, no education or health structure. Now is the time to think about an even distribution of power and resources among all Bolivians. Otherwise Bolivia will no longer exist on the world map.
SN, La Paz, Bolivia

The current Bolivian crisis is a structural one, in which none of the actors involved (nor the "leftist" movements, nor the more conservative groups of the traditional Bolivian elite) can establish their political, pre-eminence over one other. On the other hand, there have been accusations that many of the protests from social organisations and groups are infiltrated with agents from the extreme right, and that protesters receive financing and support to help create a climate of uncertainty in Bolivia, favouring the disposition of the population towards a more authoritarian, but orderly regime.

The seizure of dynamite, money and firearms by the police, yesterday, from some "protesters", seem to support these claims of external financing. We have to distinguish here between the real long-term solution for the permanent political crisis in Bolivia, and a short-term solution for the present crisis peak, which might take many forms, from a more democratic one, which might encompass the call for election of new authorities, to an undemocratic solution, which is not so far off, by the way.
Sergio Jauregui, La Paz, Bolivia

Mesa faces the dilemma of balancing indigenous demands with the neo-liberal economic model. If he raises the tax on gas exports to 50%, he will be threatening the foreign credit inflow on which Bolivia is so dependent. But if he doesn't then the protests will most likely escalate. For this reason, Bolivia has become an almost ungovernable country.
Gareth Humphreys, Portsmouth, UK

The main problem in South America today is corruption accepted as a way of life at almost every level and a general lack of morality. Nationalising the oil industry will just lead to more corruption and inefficiency eventually leading to an even worse economic situation for the poor. What's needed is more free market driven reform, the USA to be engaged with the region and lots of government transparency. Unfortunately, it's going to take decades of hardship and sacrifice before society there evolves into something more stable and equitable.
Alex, Caracas, Venezuela

The protesters do not know what they are asking for
Santiago Dammert, Lima, Peru
The protesters do not know what they are asking for. They are sending Bolivia into turmoil. Nationalisation will not help under a weak government, which will most probably be corrupt.
Santiago Dammert, Lima, Peru

The people want to have a say in how their country is run. It's not too much to ask. The people want to vote. If you want a resolution to the problem, let the people vote. Only those interested in securing their own power would oppose such a choice.
Simon, Toronto, Canada

I am a mining company executive returning to the US from Bolivia. While my project was in the hinterlands and not in La Paz, our office is headquartered in La Paz and the situation there is getting steadily worse according to my associates. This whole mess started when the US asked Bolivia to quit growing Coca which they did. When Bolivia asked for help for alternative incomes for the coca growers Bush said no and here we are. This would never have happened if the US had helped develop another sustainable employment for them. Another failure of American diplomacy.
Mike Shaw, Denver, CO, USA

I am a journalist who was living and working in La Paz in 2003 when the 'Gas War' occurred. I honestly do not know how the current situation will be resolved - Carlos Mesa has made none of the mistakes of his predecessor yet he can do no right either. Half of the country want nationalisation of the resources, as they believe this will give them immediate financial gratification, but fail to realise it will cripple the country economically. The others want to move to economic liberalisation, but fail to realise this will just continue to polarise the country financially. Neither side is willing to consider the long term benefits of compromise, and as a result things will continue to spiral out of control until one side wins, but not before the country has been completely crippled and perhaps a civil war has happened.
Kristie Robinson, London, UK

The ballot could be the only option
Paul John Kibu, Kigoma, Tanzania
The ballot, the most democratic way of expressing ideas, could be the only option. Bolivians are tired. Let an elected government offer what is good for the majority. Resorting to teargas canisters will only aggravate the problem.
Paul John Kibu, Kigoma, Tanzania

I was in La Paz in October and there were protests and scuffles on a daily basis. The people there are dirt poor, and I can see why they are angry.
Mark Power, Dublin, Ireland

The resignation of the president will create more chaos and uncertainty. The tussle between the executive and the Congress will lead to civil war. The indigenous people must have a share of the natural resources. It is time the UN shows that it has guts to move in with courage and negotiate a settlement amongst the right, the left and the indigenous people and conduct new general elections. UN diplomats must leave their cosy hotels and meet the people who need help. This is an opportunity to prove that the world still needs a UN.
Richard Kamalanathan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The solution is complicated, but it can begin by the Congress making a promise to nationalise all gas, oil, and mineral resources, including all foreign companies that mine them. And to immediately begin to deliver greater power to the indigenous communities, including resources to build structures for education and health for the most needy.
Encke King, New York City, USA

The greatest enemy of Bolivia is its history of corruption in government and in union management. The riches of the country are exported, never to return. Water, food, and shelter must be available to all. Amarya and Quechua languages must be elevated to the same level as Spanish. Public libraries should be introduced to the country.
George Zimmer, Byron, Michigan, USA

The protesters' demands seem pretty reasonable. Wealth is so unfairly distributed in South America that these kinds of violent protests are inevitable while the majority live in absolute poverty and the elite live in incomprehensible luxury.
Jake, Leeds, UK

A new and complete election is the only way to keep democracy and return order to the country
Daniel Uribe, Washington DC, USA
As a Bolivian living overseas, I see that a new and complete election is the only way to keep democracy and return order to the country. Mr Diez and Mr Cossio should follow the president's lead and resign. They should do this for the people and the country.
Daniel Uribe, Washington DC, USA

The government should look into nationalising the gas supplies and then leasing out extraction rights to the company on short term contracts. National elections should be held with UN monitoring and Mr Diez should do what is best for the country and step down.
Thomas Steuart-Feilding, Bristol, UK

The government has to stop giving away the country's resources to the highest bidder. The people deserve a decent wage and living conditions. They are tired of being exploited. We in the USA are getting very tired, too.
Ambler, PA, USA

On the one hand, the poor indigenous farmers and miners rightly think that they are not getting a fair share of opportunities, while the urban middle class in La Paz want to live a normal life without constant disruptions of their free movement. The country's poor fall into two categories: highland farmers whose lifestyle hasn't changed for many centuries, and miners whose living conditions resemble Manchester in 1850. They have been mobilised by the old style socialist parties. It is clear that they have few solutions for the social problems and that they find little support with the European middle classes. The problems are so deeply rooted that a solution appears almost impossible. The only immediate step forward, as outgoing President Mesa stresses, are elections for a new president and congress.
Denis Holdenried, Spello, Italy

Bolivia will not be able to develop unless it addresses its internal wrangling. Although those in the upper echelons of society may not like to admit it, Bolivia has a predominantly native South American population. To ignore the wishes of such a large contingent of any society is entirely self destructive. Change, as always, needs come from within. As it continues to be exploited by both its neighbours and overseas countries, Bolivia will continue to struggle. A start would be to give a greater recognition to the country's various indigenous groups, eg the Aymara, and a greater say in how the country is run. This may indeed lead to an initial, further drop in productivity, but it will lay the foundation for the country to develop over the next century. Bolivia cannot ignore its heritage.
Jeremy Wright, Reigate, UK

The fires of resentment are being fanned by radical left leaning leaders
Peter Rogers, South Maitland, Canada
The problem in Bolivia is but the latest in a series of increasingly violent and widening social protests at the failure of the economic integration in Latin America. The fires of resentment are being fanned by radical left leaning leaders who are in danger of engulfing the whole of the continent in chaos as is seen in neighbouring Peru, Brazil and Argentina. Now more than ever the US should stand up for democracy and social justice. I am afraid that having neglected both Africa and South America in the obsessive drive to secure oil supplies elsewhere that it is far too late to stop this cycle of violence.
Peter Rogers, South Maitland, Canada

I was in Bolivia four years ago now and remember an awful lot of protests there. It is a beautiful country, but very poor, and La Paz is a city of contrasts, rich businessmen striding past the old Incan women living in shanty towns on the outskirts of the city. The people were protesting strongly about water privatisation as I understood it. They were shouting at the tops of their voices and it all looked quite menacing from where I was standing. The government should have listened back then and maybe they wouldn't be where they are today.
Julie, London, UK

The legitimate claims of the impoverished majority would be best answered by a referendum on the nationalisation of the gas industry, while compensating, via gas exports, foreign multinationals for losses incurred in the event of nationalisation. This is the kind of grassroots people-power democracy which Bush and Co claim to embrace (mass protests, revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia etc) yet the US is no doubt planning some covert solution to counter this democratic flourish as it threatens continued cheap access to Bolivia's gas. Let's just hope the Bolivians stand firm and united - for their sake!
John, Paris, France

The historical injustices that Bolivia's large indigenous population has suffered cannot be undone overnight. Now that the highland majority is defending its economic interests in the political sphere, representation in La Paz must reflect the same shift. Elections should be conducted with international monitoring.
Megan Morrissey, Montreal, Canada





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