The election of President Victor Paz Estenssoro for a third term as chief executive of Bolivia is now confirmed but there is still considerable doubt there as to whether he will be able to hold the office.
Street in La Paz Bolivia
People voting in La Paz
People voting, putting ballots in box
Mrs. Paz walks up and puts ballot in box
Crowd of miners in Oruro - signs "Abstencion"
People with banner in Oruru
Woman shaking her fist in Oruru meeting
Lechin and Siles fasting
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Background: The election of President Victor Paz Estenssoro for a third term as chief executive of Bolivia is now confirmed but there is still considerable doubt there as to whether he will be able to hold the office. President Paz ran unopposed because the opposition boycotted the election. Objective observers in Bolivia believe more than 50 per cent of the voters stayed away from the polls despite the fact that it is compulsory for persons between 18 and 70 years old to vote.
President Paz cast his ballot in a confident mood, accompanied by his wife, Maria Theresa. He claimed a big victory, terming the election a plebiscite in his favor.
The opposition, however, is reported unified as never before. It charges President Paz with betraying the country's revolution and with rule by threat. The President says this is sour grapes, and that his opponents stayed away from the polls because they had no chance of winning.
The Paz government banned all demonstrations and opposition rallies for forty-eight hours prior to the election. Dissident groups of mining areas held rallies anyway. One, in Oruro had a considerable attendance. Miners carried a sings urging people to abstain from voting; indications are that they were successful.
Vice President Juan Lechin and former president Hernan Siles staged a hunger strike as part of the resistance movement. The two men occupied a hospital room at San Jose Mine Hospital near Oruru, and made brief appearances before the miners.
The situation is reported extremely serious. Soldiers, police and many members of the general populace are said to be armed.