BOLIVIA WAS plunged into a political crisis at the start of this week as workers and the poor resisted a government plan to hand the country's natural gas reserves to corporations.
At the weekend people in the El Alto district of the capital La Paz, fought running battles with troops sent in by President Gonzalo de Sanchez. Protesters in El Alto and elsewhere mounted barricades and roadblocks, cutting off fuel and other supplies to the capital. Troops used live bullets and teargas, killing at least 30 protesters, including a five year old child. The troops were unable to crush the resistance. More protests erupted in the heart of the capital on Monday.
The government wants to export gas to the US and Mexico in a deal with a consortium of multinationals including BP and British Gas. Some 82 percent of the revenues would go to the corporations. Protesters are demanding that the gas be nationalised and revenues used to fund development in Bolivia.
On Monday the president announced he was suspending the gas plan until the end of the year for consultations. He also continued to send troops onto the streets in what some feared was an attempt to impose a military regime. Resistance was continuing as Socialist Worker went to press, with protesters calling for the president to step down.