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Regional Leaders Gather to Discuss Bolivian Crisis


Bolivian President Evo Morales and a group of South American leaders have begun an emergency summit in an effort to resolve a political crisis in his country.

Mr. Morales and the other heads of state started their meeting Monday in Santiago, Chile. After arriving in Chile, Mr. Morales said he was looking for support from his South American counterparts. He also accused opposition Bolivian governors of mounting a coup against him.

South American leaders scheduled the talks to discuss the conflict that killed at least 28 people last week.

Government and opposition supporters clashed last week over Mr. Morales' plans to rewrite the constitution and redistribute land and natural gas revenues to the poor. The conflict pits the rich against the poor, many of whom are indigenous people like the president himself.

The governor of the oil-rich Tarija province, Mario Cossio, told reporters he and Mr. Morales will meet when Mr. Morales returns from Chile.

The crisis began when supporters of right-wing opposition governors fired shots at pro-government peasant farmers in the province of Pando.

Mr. Morales has accused Pando's governor, Leopoldo Fernandez, of ordering a massacre. Fernandez denies having anything to do with the violence.

The violence prompted Mr. Morales to declare martial law in Pando and send troops to take control of the airport in the provincial capital, Cobija.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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