LA PAZ – A score of foreign tourists managed to escape Tuesday from the southwestern Bolivian city of Potosi with a caravan of regional leaders traveling to neighboring Sucre, where they will meet with members of President Evo Morales’ government in an attempt to resolve their 13-day conflict.
Police and protest leaders in Potosi told Efe that the foreigners got rides in some of the vehicles of the commission led by provincial Gov. Felix Gonzalez.
Before leaving, Spanish citizen Silvia Puig told Efe, in a brief telephone conversation, that the tourists got into several vehicles going to Sucre, following the many problems caused them by not being able to leave Potosi for more than a week.
At first police had a bus reserved for the tourists, but it was taken over by leaders who were part of the commission leaving for Sucre.
Gov. Gonzalez’s security chief, Capt. Ruslan Lacoa, told Efe that a helicopter also managed to evacuate three French tourists, while another 20 vacationers of different nationalities left by road for Sucre.
Leaders belonging to the Civic Committee of Potosi also allowed banks and shops to open Tuesday for several hours in order to ease the inconveniences of the general strike and the roadblocks they used to put pressure on the government to make it meet their demands.
Potosi is asking Morales for mining development projects, a cement factory, an international airport and the preservation of Cerro Rico, the legendary mountain that has been mined during five centuries for its silver and now runs the risk of collapsing.
The government has asked Potosi leaders to suspend their pressure tactics. EFE