THE Catholic Church has intervened in an attempt to end a two-week old general strike which has brought Bolivia to the brink of civil war.
Archbishop Jorge Mani ique Hurtado of La Paz, after meetings with the President and trade union representative, offered church mediation in an attempt to break the deadlock.
President Hernan Sites Zuago and the radical Trade Union Federation (COB) have been locked in conflict over COB demands for stable food supplies, price controls and index-linked wages to offset inflation of 3,400 per cent a year. President Zuago's offer of a threefold increase in the basic wage and limited power-sharing has failed to sway the COB.
Earlier this week dee President ordered the troops onto the streets in an effort to restore law and order. Armoured cars are patrolling the streets of La Paz and strikers have blocked roads and launched a series of dynamite attacks.
Congressional elections have been postponed to July 14 because the electoral court said that the strike had paralysed voter registration.
The Church fears that the country may be plunged into anarchy and has set up a number of meetings between government ministers, led by Foreign Minister, Edgar Camacho, and COB delegates. However, no agreement has been possible so far.
Bolivia, in common with other Latin American countries, is burdened with a large overseas debt and drugs traders have taken control of a large sector of the economy_