Santa Cruz Autonomy Vote Passes In Bolivia– Morales Supporters Promise War
Leftists attack– 60 ballot boxes torched- 35 injuries.
Supporters of Evo Morales promise war.
Supporters of Bolivian President Evo Morales burn ballots and polling boxes for the referendum, in the Plan 3000 neighborhood of Santa Cruz, Bolivia,. (AFP/Aizar Raldes)
The “Red Ponchos” militia and supporters of Evo Morales promise war over the autonomy vote:
Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s richest region, voted today for more autonomy from the Marxist regime of Evo Morales, the Hugo Chavez lackey.
Bolivia’s richest region of Santa Cruz voted on Sunday on a plan for greater autonomy from the central government in a referendum seen as a defiant rejection of President Evo Morales’ leftist reforms.
Voting was mainly calm, although clashes broke out in several poorer areas of the tropical region soon after the polls opened as backers of Morales, a former coca farmer, ransacked polling stations and burned ballots in protest.
“This is a struggle for liberty. Liberation struggles are never easy,” Percy Fernandez, mayor of the region’s main city, told reporters.
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president and a close ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, has branded the referendum illegal and his supporters have vowed to boycott it, meaning a “yes” vote is expected to win.
“We’re not going to vote in this referendum because it’s illegal,” Jorge Flores said as ballots burned in a heap behind him. “We’re Bolivians and will not be managed by the rich.”
The referendum would theoretically give Santa Cruz’s conservative leaders more control over taxes, policing and natural resources including fertile farmland and about 10 percent of Bolivia’s oil and natural gas reserves.
Several Bolivian provinces will follow Santa Cruz and hold similar autonomy votes next month.
Three other neighboring opposition-run provinces are to hold their own autonomy votes next month, and two more are thinking of following suit.
The defiance against Morales was triggered by his efforts to rewrite the constitution to give more of the nation’s wealth to the indigenous majority — of which he is part — and to limit the size of large landholdings.
Marxist President Evo Morales took control of the oil and phone companies in Bolivia this past month.
UPDATE: Bolivian President Evo Morales rejected the vote.