Bolivia: protesters against President Morales' reforms block highways

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September 6, 2008 05:14

 
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Protesters stormed a small airport Friday and blocked major highways across eastern Bolivia in a standoff over central government reforms designed to empower Bolivia's indigenous majority. President Evo Morales' attempts to change the constitution, redirect natural gas revenues to the poor and redistribute fallow land were meeting with staunch opposition from the country's energy-rich eastern provinces. Hundreds of vehicles blocked a highway connecting Bolivia's administrative capital of La Paz with the prosperous eastern lowlands city of Santa Cruz. The highway blockades were ordered on Wednesday by the governors of five states that opposed holding a national referendum on a constitution written by allies of the president. The opposition provinces were seeking greater autonomy from Morales' leftist government. Critics contended that Morales' proposed constitution did not represent all Bolivians and objected to a section that allowed presidential reelection.

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