Bolivian cardinal offers to mediate in crisis if protests are halted

.- The Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia announced it would offer mediation in the social crisis gripping the country with the condition that there be a stop to all “attitudes of violence and intransigence” and that all radical demands yield to dialogue. The Conference issued their statement shortly after a meeting between Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandova, Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and top government officials, following the dramatic resignation of President Carlos Mesa.

The statement said government leaders were willing to work for concrete solutions to the problems affecting the country “within the bounds of the Bolivian constitution.”

The bishops also called for “patriotic gestures” on the part of all Bolivians and the ceasing of all “attempts to pressure,” especially those that are taking place in La Paz and which endanger “those most poor,” and to ensure such measures do not spread to other cities in the country.

Likewise the bishops asked the media to “collaborate in the pacification of the country” by promoting “a spirit of dialogue that would help to find effective and long-lasting solutions to the problems for the benefit of all.”

Protest leader  rejected calls by the bishops to cease demonstrations and blockades and continued in their calls for a constitutional assembly and the nationalization of the country’s natural gas industry. 

They expressed their willingness to participate in negotiations mediated by the bishops but they refused to lift their attempts to apply pressure and said demonstrations could intensify.

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