Mesa Appears Close to Resigning

I write to you a few blocks from the Palace of Government. While around half a million people have mobilized in the streets of La Paz today, the rumors in the streets and information coming to us from government sources agree: President Mesa could resign at any time. If this happens, the President of the National Congress, Senator Hormando Vaca Diez, would have to assume the presidency, and will have already reached an agreement with the Armed Forces to immediately decree a state of siege.

A little more history was written today, Monday, June 6, in the streets of the seat of government, the city of La Paz: The most combative sectors of the social movements (the urban and rural Aymara, the miners and El Alto university students, among others) have expanded their siege of the center of State power: there have been clashes with the police for ours in attempts to take the Plaza Murillo. This morning there were more people in the streets than before, possibly more than ever before in the recent history of social mobilizations in Bolivia. Perhaps half a million people, perhaps more, according to the calculations of a leader from District 8 of El Alto.

The public school teachers arrived earlier at the Plaza de los Héroes. Today is Teachers’ Day in Bolivia, and there were more than 30,000 educators in the streets. It was just after 10:00 in the morning and they went out alone to shut down central La Paz. A half hour later the two immense marches from El Alto arrived, one made up of the city’s southern districts and another from the north.

The minerworkers’ federation arrived, as did the factory workers, the students, followed by the peasant farmers from the communities south of La Paz, and the neighborhoods from La Paz’s eastern slopes, which form the border with El Alto. They were all there, together with Aymara peasant farmers from several provinces, and together held another great council like the one last week…

The council’s decisions, approved by hundreds of thousands of raised hands, came out around noon:

  1. Total hydrocarbon nationalization, and the occupation of gas and oil wells.
  2. Out with Mesa and the National Congress.
Mesa Could Resign This Afternoon

While all this occurred, for the last two days in the city of Santa Cruz, the Bolivian political class and the Santa Cruz right wing have been meeting to try to reach a solution and end this crisis (President Mesa himself was there on Saturday)… and they are not getting anywhere.

Because of this, according to a source within the Catholic Church who asked to remain anonymous, Carlos Mesa has a resignation letter ready and could present it, at latest, tomorrow night.

But the people in La Paz were one step ahead. Around 1:30 pm a contingent of peasant farmers from various provinces and interrupted the popular assembly: they wanted to take Plaza Murillo once and for all and throw Mesa and the members of Congress out of there.

And so the clashes began… and the gas and rubber bullets began to fall on the people. For nearly two hours the people have been fighting the police and at the moment the smell of teargas and the tires burning to lesson its effects is everywhere. The people are regrouping and still encircle the plaza on all sides.

At the time the people decided to head into combat, it was known that Carlos Mesa would give a speech around 3:30 pm (he had to suspend the event during the confrontations). Now, it is nearly a fact, and a resignation message (perhaps prerecorded) is expected as the entire country hangs on the edge of its seat…

Senator Vaca Diez, president of the National Congress and one of the main representatives of the coup-plotting right wing, would take power in Bolivia. He is ready. According to a source in the Armed Forces, the Bolivian military will not put down the protesters until Mesa resigns… but it seems that military leaders have reached an agreement with Vaca Diez to  declare a state of siege today…

Such is the situation in the first few hours of the afternoon… nothing is certain, nothing confirmed, but we are sure of one thing: the people are determined, and it doesn’t seem that Mesa’s eventual resignation or a call to a Constituent Assembly (especially if Vaca Diez takes power) will hold them back… stay here, kind readers, because history is once again being written in the Bolivian streets.

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