.- The Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia is calling on the government and on demonstration leaders to make their best effort to find a common solution to the problems facing the country and to do everything possible to stop the growing violence. During a press conference, the Vice President of the Conference, Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto, expressed the “growing concern” of the Church for the situation and he pointed out that the Bolivian bishops are hopeful that “a solution within the bounds of democracy can be found soon.”
Hundreds and farmers and miners in Bolivia’s main cities have carried out numerous demonstrations. The most recent tension comes from the efforts of leaders in the region of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, one of the country’s wealthiest, to gain autonomy. The government supports a referendum on the issue but trade unions in the country are opposed.
“We call on the legislative and executive powers to assume the enormous responsibility they have right now before the country. Their decisions will have an historical character because of the fundamental aspect of the problems and they could contribute to overcoming the climate of conflict we are living or they could make it worse with unforeseeable consequences,” warned Bishop Juarez.
The bishop’s statements came after a new round of protests in La Paz and in other areas of the country in which demonstrators blocked traffic on main highways, preventing movement between Bolivia and the surrounding countries of Chile, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay.
“Violence, whatever its source, only breeds greater pain and suffering; we hope that the media, at the same time that it provides information, will also contribute to creating an adequate environment for achieving the desired understanding,” he added.
Lastly, Bishop Juarez pointed out that “the great challenges facing the country, such as poverty and exclusion, continue to be present and should be resolved through the principles of social justice, respect for life, liberty and democracy, in unity and solidarity.”