In Bolivia, Parliament and the country's labour movement have both rejected a proposal to share power with military leader Alberto Natusch.
In Bolivia, Parliament and the country's labour movement have both rejected a proposal to share power with military leader Alberto Natusch. The Colonel took power on November 1 and proclaimed himself President despite widespread opposition from politicians and the Confederation of Bolivian Workers. There have been 188 coups in Bolivia's 154 years of independence. But, this time, there has been none of the usual pragmatic acceptance of the sudden change of government. The United States and Bolivia's partners in the Andean Pact have angrily condemned the coup while other nations have not acknowledged the new regime.
SYNOPSIS: Colonel Natusch has the backing of a large sector Bolivia's miliary force, despite outspoke condemnation by army commander-in-chief General David Padilla, now under house arrest. Bolivia's powerful Central Labour Organisation (COB) -- whose headquarters were wrecked by the army -- also reacted angrily to the coup, and called for an immediate general strike. It effectively paralysed the country, but on November 8, the organisation's general secretary, Juan Lechin, told newsmen the strike was being called off. He said the unions had made this decision to stop further bloodshed. It was estimated at least 30 died when troops fired on striking demonstrators while ordering everyone back to work.
Students, too, joined politicians and professional organisations in rejecting the Colonel's rule, and were among those slain in street violence.
Colonel Natusch installed himself in the Presidential Palace in La Paz, saying he had taken over Bolivia to bring stability to the country after two year of abortive elections. But toppled President Walter Guevara Arze refused to resign as Bolivia's interim leader. Escaping arrest, he now claims he is head of a "government in hiding".
Colonel Natusch responded to civilian resistance by lifting martial law and press censorship on November 7.
He declared that general elections would be held on May 4 next year, and invited Parliament and organised labour to join him in ruling the country was triumvirate. The proposal followed the United States's decision to suspend its 27 million dollar aid programme or Bolivia.
But the country's congress has firmly rejected the idea of triumvirate rule.
The President of Congress Miss Lidia Gueiler, called for discussions with the Central Labour Organisation, whose secretary, Juan Lechin agreed to join a dialogue on solving the political crisis. But he stressed the unions would not accept Colonel Natusch as ruler.
On Saturday (November 10) members of Congress met to debate the impasse. The result was an agreement by all main parties to reject Colonel Natusch's de facto rule. In a resolution, Congress reaffirmed that the legislators were the only representatives of 'the people's sovereign will'. But despite its popular support, the resolution takes Bolivia no closer to a political solution. It leaves the door open for a triumvirate without the coup's leader. But the armed forces say they will not agree to nay military ruler but Natusch.