The leader of the Bolivian coup, Colonel Alberto Natusch, has imposed martial law and press censorship following a night of heavy shooting around the Presidential Palace on Saturday (3 November).
The leader of the Bolivian coup, Colonel Alberto Natusch, has imposed martial law and press censorship following a night of heavy shooting around the Presidential Palace on Saturday (3 November). Elements of the armed forces moved a column of tanks towards the palace to challenge the Colonel's bid for power while his supporters prepared to defend the building. However, calm appeared to have returned to La Paz on Sunday (4 November), but the situation remained confused. It was not clear whether the self-proclaimed President had resisted attempts to oust him.
SYNOPSIS: Two days after the coup, a declared state of siege was still in force, with the centre of the city heavily reinforced by the military. Army helicopters patrolled La Paz and surrounding suburbs.
Colonel Alberto Natusch, aged fifty-two, seized power Thursday (1 November) morning -- with the apparent support of the police and some of the armed forces. He named himself President and appointed a new cabinet of eight civilians and five military officers, with three more posts to be filled.
The coup was the two hundredth in Bolivia in one hundred and fifty-six years.
Colonel Natusch also announced the dismissal of the Armed Forces Commander in Chief, General David Padilla, who refused to back him. In La Paz, Police clashed with demonstrators who took to the streets to condemn the coup and express support for ousted President Walter Guevara Arze.
Other demonstrators began raising barricades in the centre of the city near the Bolivian Trade Union Organisation headquarters. The union called a general strike after the coup, which paralysed La Paz for three days.
In working class districts of La Paz, police fired into the air and used tear gas to break up the sporadic demonstrations. When calm was restored to the streets on Sunday, hospital reports said that six people had been killed and twenty-one injured in the fighting. By dawn street patrols were scarcely to be seen in the city centre and residents in outlying suburbs said that all was quiet there also.