Bolivians march against Evo Morales over jungle highway crackdown

From The Guardian UK:

President halted construction in wake of police violence but remains accused of betraying native peoples

Associated Press, Wednesday 28 September 2011

Tens of thousands of Bolivians have taken to the streets to reproach President Evo Morales over a police crackdown on indigenous protesters.

The marchers decried the perceived betrayal by Bolivia‘s first Indian president of his prime constituencies: native groups and environmentalists.

“Evo was a very strong symbol for many people. He embodied principles of justice, of human rights. But now these people are disenchanted,” said Jim Shultz, an analyst with thinktank the Democracy Centre, which works on Bolivian issues.

Some Bolivians, such as 44-year-old schoolteacher Juana Pinto, said Morales had proved a disappointment. “This government is the worst and it should go because it attacked human beings, the indigenous compatriots who had given it their support, and now it’s turned its back on them,” said Pinto, who took part in a march that brought central La Paz to a standstill.

The president issued a statement saying the protests had been a “profound wake-up call” for his government following weekend police action that broke up a march by Indians protesting against a proposed highway through their protected Amazon reserve.

“I could never order such violence as has been seen by the Bolivian people,” Morales said in a statement released to news media. He asked for forgiveness from the families of the protesters and urged indigenous groups to hold talks with the government.

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