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Bolivian Protesters Call for Self-Rule


Hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Bolivia's second largest city, Santa Cruz, demanding autonomy for the region.

The crowd, which carried banners and chanted anti-government slogans, was addressed by Santa Cruz civic leader Ruben Costas. He led the calls for an autonomous government in the wealthy Santa Cruz province.

The demand for self-rule follows a series of demonstrations, strikes and blockades in Bolivia against a government decision earlier this month to raise fuel prices by as much as 23 percent. Protesters are demanding the resignation of President Carlos Mesa.

A group of lawmakers is sending a committee to Santa Cruz for talks to calm the situation.

In October, 2003, violent anti-government protests left dozens dead and prompted then Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to resign.