Fourth Bolivian state 'votes for autonomy'

Natural gas-rich Tarija became the fourth Bolivian state to declare autonomy from the government of leftist President Evo Morales when voters backed greater independence in a referendum, according to two private quick counts of votes.

Autonomy backers waved the state’s flag and celebrated in Tarija’s capital after pollsters released results showing the yes vote getting about 80% support. Electoral officials said there would be no final results until Wednesday.

“A new Bolivia must be built on a foundation of autonomy,” Governor Mario Cossio told a crowd of supporters Sunday night.

“Centralism has left a bad legacy – we are the second-poorest country on the continent. Autonomy is the new path.”

The referendum followed similar votes, with similar results, in three other lowland states.

Mr Morales has called the referenda illegal attempts to cripple his government.

Tarija’s vote was carried out with some delays but without major problems.

Supporters of Mr Morales blocked roads to two small towns but failed to disrupt the voting, said Miguel Angel Guzman, president of the state electoral court, which supports the autonomy measure.

Tarija, in the border region with Argentina and Paraguay 400 miles south of the capital, La Paz, is home to 85% of Bolivia’s natural gas reserves – the nation’s main export.

It remains unclear how the new autonomy measures would work. The states have yet to test their self-declared freedoms by withholding gas revenues from Mr Morales’ government.

A possible preview came this week in Santa Cruz, where national police arrested two men with a rifle and telescopic sight, saying they planned to assassinate the president during his visit to the eastern state.

But a local Santa Cruz prosecutor allied with the autonomous state government released the men, saying they were only going hunting.

More in this Section

Several missing after deadly floods and landslides hit BrazilSeveral missing after deadly floods and landslides hit Brazil

Boris Johnson: Britain will become global, trail-blazing country after BrexitBoris Johnson: Britain will become global, trail-blazing country after Brexit

Sir David Attenborough warns climate action hindered by short government termsSir David Attenborough warns climate action hindered by short government terms

Turkish president visits quake scene and denies nation was unpreparedTurkish president visits quake scene and denies nation was unprepared


Lifestyle

As Stockton’s Wing release a retrospective album, Mike Hanrahan tells Donal O’Keeffe about getting back on the road, and his love of cookingStill a beautiful affair: Mike Hanrahan talks about getting back on the road with Stockton's Wing

An ongoing cull is resulting in a major reduction in the deer population in one of the country’s most visited natural attractions.Donal Hickey: Deer birth patterns evolving

A Courtmacsherry neighbour, Kathy Gannon tells me that when the tide is out, the vast acres of clean, grey mud of the bay reflect the sun in splendour in the clear, sharp air.Damien Enright: ‘How enchanting for humanity that we have birds’

It is hard to believe today but the former island of Ringarogy in West Cork was once home to around 800 people.Islands of Ireland: Ring a Ringarogy

More From The Irish Examiner