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City strikes for government cash

media Stranded foreign tourists in Potosi city Photo: Reuters

The Bolivian mining city of Potosi is paralysed as the city’s residents stage a general strike for more government investment in their region.France says that about 100 foreign tourists, including 40 French nationals, are trapped in the south-east of the country because of the protest movement.

A local committee leading the strikers says it wants the government to build an airport, a new road, a cement factory and open a zinc mine nearby. They also want their border with the neighbouring Uroro region clearly mapped out.

All roads leading out of Potosi, mainly towards Argentina, are blocked.

The government of president Evo Morales has condemned the movement, although authorities have ruled out using force against the Potosi strikers. A ministerial delegation will travel to Potosi as soon as the strike ends.

The province of Potosi is one of six where President Morales's Movement for Socialism, Mas, is in a majority. Potosi city is controlled by the opposition, however.

On Wednesday night protest rallies became violent. Thousands of people marched in a show of force against the central government. The provincial governor was heckled by the crowds and the residence of a Bolivian vice-minister was attacked with explosives.

President Morales' government says this is a political strike and that the mayor of Potosi is masterminding the protest.

Potosi has 150,000 residents and is 550 kilometres from the Bolivian capital, La Paz, the scene of two-day protests against the propsed Customs Law on Wednesday.


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