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Bolivia: President Morales Tries to Quell Violent Protests

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Bolivia: President Morales Tries to Quell Violent Protests

Bolivian President Evo Morales is meeting with opposition leaders to calm political unrest in his country. (AFP)

Bolivian President Evo Morales has begun talks with rebel state governors in an attempt to end political turmoil that sparked deadly protests last week. During the negotiations, the governors will press for more regional autonomy, a larger share of natural gas revenues and for Morales to abandon his quest for land reforms. One regional governor said that, “This may be the last chance to solve the country's problems in peace.”

Roman Catholic Church officials and international envoys, including the secretary general of the Organization of American States, will observe the talks. President Morales accused the Catholic Church of siding with the governors. He also believes the U.S. encouraged the protests against him.

The conflict pits the impoverished indigenous majority of the Andean highlands against a more ethnically mixed and relatively prosperous eastern lowlands, where natural gas reserves are located. Dialogue froze between the two sides some eight months ago.

Jim Shultz is executive director of the Democracy Center in Bolivia. He's based in Cochabamba and writes an informative blog on the country. Initially, when word came of the unrest in Bolivia, things were a bit murky.

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