INTRODUCTION: The Bolivian military junta has issued a sharp warming to political opposition groups that they'll be punished if they try to disturb tranquility and order in the country.
GV & CU Traffic and people in streets of La Paz
LV ZOOM IN TO SV Woman in traditional costume passing people feeding pigeons (2 shots)
GV AND CU EXTERIOR Military barracks with vehicles passing guards on gates (2 shots)
SV & CU Vehicles passing gate with soldiers seated inside barracks
SV & CU Military police outside Quemado Palace (3 shots)
CU INTERIOR President Garcia Mesa speaking in Spanish
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The Bolivian military junta has issued a sharp warming to political opposition groups that they'll be punished if they try to disturb tranquility and order in the country. The military, under General Luis Garcia Mesa, overthrew the newly-elected civilian government last July. Since then, the junta has faced strong international protest at its policies, and an Amnesty International report has accused it of lawless political killings and imprisonments. The country's external debt of some three and three quarter billion dollars is a heavy burden that only Argentina has offered to ease with substantial economic aid.
SYNOPSIS: Since Bolivia became independent in 1816, it has averaged more than one dramatic change of government a year. The last coup, seven months ago, was its 189th. The capital, has a normal look and flow during the day. But at night, the people must hurry to be home before the 11 p.m. curfew.
From then, until six in the morning, only detachments of armed soldiers are in the streets, with La Paz taking on the appearance of an occupied city.
The junta has been uneasy, speaking of plots to assassinate prominant people, including army officers and members of the Church and Press. The latest allegations of plottings to overthrow the government were directed against students of the military college.
Security, always tight, was intensified after these reports, although unit commanders described heavy troop movements in sections of the capital as routine exercises.
In a nationwide speech on Monday (23 March), President Garcia Mesa made no mention of the military cadets' unrest. His speech reaffirmed Bolivia's intention to regain its access to the sea, lost in the war against Chile 102 years ago.
He said the junta's plan for national reconstruction meant social, political and economic changes. But the country is facing economic disaster unless it can overcome its reputation for repression and refute stories that the junta is involved in drug trafficking. Last year's coup was strongly censured by Bolivia's fellow members of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Andean Pact.