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News ::
Dictator Bush to Send Military Team to Bolivia (english)
17 Oct 2003
Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is expected to resign Friday, a political official said, after weeks of violent protests virtually paralyzed the South American nation.
A small U.S. military team will go to the troubled country to assess the security situation, a U.S. Southern Command spokesman said.

The military team will help the U.S. ambassador in La Paz review plans to evacuate American citizens, should that become necessary.

However, a U.S. Southern Command spokesman, Capt. Tom Crosson, said no evacuation is being considered. It is not known how many Americans are in Bolivia.

Public transportation and many other services have ground to a halt as a result of the demonstrations. Flights in and out of the airport in La Paz also have been disrupted.

The conflict began soon after Sanchez de Lozada announced his decision to export natural gas to the United States and Mexico. The mostly indigenous demonstrators are calling for an overthrow of Sanchez de Lozada's government, and have clashed with soldiers and police.

An estimated 74 people have been killed in the month of protests against the government's pro-U.S., free-market economic policies, Reuters reported. The policies have failed to improve living standards in South America's poorest country.

Bolivian media reports said the president had recorded a video message to be sent to the Bolivian Congress, and that three military helicopters were standing by to take him out of the capital. Two belong to the United States, media reports said, the other to Peru.

On Thursday, the State Department urged U.S. citizens not to travel to Bolivia and suggested those in the country leave immediately.

"These events are undermining constitutional order and democratic values and have led to a tragic loss of life," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "We repeat our call to Bolivians to reject confrontation that could lead to more violence."

Thursday's warning by the State Department followed a "public announcement" Tuesday that cautioned U.S. citizens against travel to Bolivia.
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