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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:53, June 08, 2005
Roundup: American countries prepare to help Bolivia out of crisis
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American countries and regional blocs Tuesday expressed their concerns about the situation in Bolivia and said they would provide assistance to resolve the crisis after the resignation of Bolivian President Carlos Mesa.

The Organization of American States (OAS), which groups 35 American nations including the United States and Canada, Tuesday passed a declaration on the situation in Bolivia at its General Assembly in Florida.

The declaration expressed the readiness of the OAS "to provide all cooperation that may be requested by the legitimate Bolivian authorities to facilitate dialogue as a means of surmounting the crisis and guaranteeing the preservation of democratic institutions."

The declaration regretted the exacerbation of the political crisis in Bolivia and expressed "the need for the resignation of the president of Bolivia to be considered in terms of the statutory channels established in the country's constitution."

The declaration also called upon Bolivian political parties "to surmount the present crisis promptly, through dialogue, in a peaceful fashion, and with respect for human rights, in accordance with applicable constitutional provisions, preserving democracy and guaranteeing the unity of Bolivia."

The Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) also called for a solution to the crisis in Bolivia through dialogue on Tuesday.

The MERCOSUR, which is composed of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, said in a statement that it would "closely follow the political events" in Bolivia and recognize "the efforts made by President Carlos Mesa within the constitutional framework."

Bolivia is one of the associate members of the MERCOSUR.

The Mexican government said Tuesday it laments the situation in Bolivia and expects that "the resignation of President Mesa will contribute to solving the problem within the framework of the rule of law and the institutional structures of Bolivia."

Presidential Spokesman Ruben Aguilar said Mesa's resignation helps "to sort things out."

"We expect problems be solved and that Bolivia, along with Peru, becomes an exporter of natural gas to Mexico. It is good for us and it is good for them," he added.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez said at the OAS General Assembly on Tuesday that "if Bolivia requested OAS mediation, Venezuela would participate in a solution, but only if the Bolivian authorities request so."

Uruguayan Foreign Minister Jose Cancela also expressed concern about the unrest in Bolivia, saying that his government is closely following the situation.

The Chilean government spokesman appealed for stability in Bolivia, saying it is important to keep constitutional order and seek political consensus.

The unrest in Bolivia erupted after the National Congress passed a law on May 17 to levy a 50-percent tax on foreign oil and gas companies operating in the country, which has the second- largest gas reserves in South America after Venezuela.

The opposition demanded higher taxes on foreign firms and nationalization of the country's lucrative oil and gas industry.

They also demanded the resignation of Mesa and a rewriting of the constitution to boost indigenous representation in the congress.

Demonstrations have escalated into riots since May 24 when demonstrators blocked a downtown square in La Paz, where the executive and legislative branches are located, and began to smash windows in buildings and cars in the surrounding streets.

Local reports said Tuesday that the protesters had blocked roads between major cities in Bolivia and paralyzed traffic linking neighboring states.

Late on Monday, Carlos Mesa announced his decision to resign after protesters threatened to storm the presidential palace earlier.

The leaders of Bolivia's National Congress Tuesday decided to resume the session to discuss Mesa's resignation.

Source: Xinhua

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