Hundreds of unionists marched in the streets of La Paz on April 17, the day after a three-day general strike.
GV PAN Demonstrators in streets listen to union speakers on balcony (2 shots)
GV Demonstrators with flags march through streets as police stand by in riot gear (7 shots)
GV Marchers carry union banner at head of processions (2 shots)
SV Women and children march, followed by men chanting (4 shots)
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Background: Hundreds of unionists marched in the streets of La Paz on April 17, the day after a three-day general strike. Scores of riot police, some armed with rifles and batons, stood by. Hundreds of people crowded the streets to listen to speeches by Workers' Confederation (COB) officials. Neighbourhood associations blocked the road to the city's airport for two hours, and Defence Minister Colonel Manuel Cardenas said troops had been placed on alert in case of trouble. Shops, markets and mines reopened on April 17 at the end of the general strike, but Reuters reported the threat of an indefinite stoppage the following week remained as unions and the government started talks over a controversial austerity package. The plans include a 75 per cent devaluation of the peso and rises of between 100 and 600 per cent in food and fuel prices. The Communist-led COB has stated that it would start an indefinite stoppage from April 23 unless the government of President Hernan Siles Zuazo reviewed the strict terms laid down by the International Monetary Fund, and considered union alternatives. The COB plans envisages deferring payment of 4.4 billion US dollars in foreign debts until the economy recovers. It also wants the sale of the country's 200 million dollar gold reserves to import food, medicines and machinery.