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Thousands of Bolivians Protest in La Paz


Bolivian demonstrators
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Bolivian capital Tuesday demanding more power for workers. After weeks of increasingly violent protest, President Carlos Mesa resigned Monday.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Bolivian capital, La Paz, Tuesday, continuing their protest against government policies. Demonstrators clogged the streets of La Paz for the second day since President Carlos Mesa resigned, saying he could no longer lead the poor South American nation.

This is his second attempt to resign this year, but his previous offer was rejected by Congress. The legislature is expected to consider his second offer to resign on Wednesday.

For weeks, Bolivia has been paralyzed by demonstrations that blocked highways and access to cities, causing food and fuel shortages. Protesters are calling for the nationalization of all gas companies and demand a constitutional assembly to rewrite Bolivia's laws to give indigenous people more representation in the government.

They are also demanding greater autonomy for some of Bolivia's wealthier gas-rich provinces in the east.

According to Ecuardo Rodriguez, head of the Supreme Court of Justice, Bolivia is in a crisis.

Mr. Rodriguez says Bolivia is going through a really hard time.

Yielding to public pressure, President Mesa approved a controversial bill last month that drastically increased taxes on foreign-owned oil and gas companies, even though he had repeatedly spoken

out against such a move. But protest leaders said the measure was insufficient, and demanded total nationalization of the industry.

Last week, Mr. Mesa went further and announced that the constitution would be rewritten by a specially elected assembly. He said a referendum would be held on the autonomy request for the eastern provinces.

For many ordinary Bolivians, like Antonio Aguilar, Bolivia's whole system is rotten.

Mr. Auguilar says Bolivians are serving a few rich people because of the system. He says changes must be made in a society where few are rich and the majority is poor.

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