Ruthless Army action now threatens thousands of Bolivian farmworkers who recently revolted against the rightwing Government of President Hugo Banzer.
Ruthless Army action now threatens thousands of Bolivian farmworkers who recently revolted against the rightwing Government of President Hugo Banzer. On Thursday (31 January) President Banzer said that he had authorised "all measures the law affords us, and, if necessary outside the law" to crush what he called "an international Communist conspiracy."
The protest began the previous weekend as part of a series of strikes by various groups of workers in protest against a Government doores authorising an increase of more than a hundred per cent in the prices of various staple foods such as rice and flour. It has developed into the most serious challenge to the President's power, since he seized power form the leftwing President, Juan Jose Torres, in August 1971.
By Friday night, farmworkers were reported to be massed in the Cochabamba area, and clandestine radio stations were heard calling on peasants to resist "until the ultimate consequences".
Earlier in the week, the farmworkers' leaders had demanded that President Banzer should visit them in their stronghold in Cochabamba Province to discuss their grievances. Instead the President ordered troops into action to clears barricades erected by the workers on main highways, and which were amied at isolating Cochabama City from the rest of the country.
Late on Friday night, the Bolivian miners called a 48-hour strike in solidarity with the farmworkers. The strike call was made at a mass meeting held in defiance of the Government's emergency regulations.