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Bolivia: State of siege

20-04-2000 News Release 00/14

On 8 April the Bolivian government declared a state of siege for 90 days and mobilized the armed forces in response to the mass protests which have swept the country since early this month. The protests, which were sparked by the planned privatization of water networks, have resulted in numerous arrests.

The ICRC regional delegate in Buenos Aires immediately went to Bolivia to assess the situation together with the Bolivian Red Cross. The National Society had already taken measures to assist those in need, in particular people blocked in bus stations.

Following discussions with the Ministries of Defence and of the Interior, the ICRC received the necessary guarantees to visit persons detained for reasons of internal security. The visits will be conducted on the basis of the general agreement concluded in 1997 between the ICRC and the Bolivian government. 

On 13 April the regional delegate and an ICRC doctor were able to charter a plane for San Joaquin, a remote village in the Bolivian Amazon region, where they visited 19 people detained by a military unit. Meanwhile, negotiations between the government and the opposition have made it possible to settle many of the conflicts currently affecting the country.