Venezuela, Russia aid fight
Mr. Fernandez and other local officials remain confined in military prisons even as Mr. Morales negotiates with governors of three other rebellious and autonomy-seeking provinces - Santa Cruz, Beni and Tarija.
Mario Cronenbold, a congressional deputy from Santa Cruz, says that six Venezuelan soldiers were identified among a dozen bodies recovered from the town of Porvenir in Pando province.
“We have been informed by airport authorities that six coffins were loaded onto a military Hercules transport plane headed for Venezuela last Monday,” the lawmaker said.
The Venezuelan newspaper, Noticias 2001, reported that five Venezuelan bodies were flown from Bolivia to the Libertador air base outside Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, on Sept. 22.
According to the report, they were members of the Francisco de Miranda Front, an international brigade recently formed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an ally of Bolivia’s Mr. Morales.
The Venezuelan government has made no official comment about the reports.
But Mr. Linera denies that any Venezuelans were involved in the fighting, calling the allegations “lies, inventions and smoke screens to cover up the terrible slaughter of 17 peasants.”
The Morales government says a local paramilitary militia opened fire on a largely unarmed crowd of Indian demonstrators.
Mr. Morales won a national referendum on his presidential mandate in August with a 67 percent vote. But governors in the four rebellious provinces also won overwhelming support from their constituents.
Regional heavyweights including Brazil and Chile have backed Mr. Morales in his dispute with the east but urged him to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Edmundo Novillo, who is speaker of parliament’s lower house, has confirmed reports that appeared last week in Venezuela’s newspaper Universal, that Venezuela has spent $6.7 billion to support Mr. Morales’ government.
“It concerns investments of solidarity, which make it possible to improve the economic situation. Venezuela is going through a great economic moment and is the one which has the most to invest to empower the productive apparatus with results for the future,” Mr. Novillo said.
Oil-rich Venezuela and Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, signed a military cooperation agreement in 2007 that would authorize Venezuelan officers to direct training missions in Bolivia.
Both are run by popularly elected leftist presidents, who have vowed to remake their nations with socialist-style economies by nationalizing resources such as oil and natural gas. Opponents say those nations are following a Cuban model in which both presidents plan to rule for life or, like Fidel Castro, became too sick to govern.
Brazil reinforced its frontier last week with 600 elite troops and combat helicopters after Bolivian officials asked for the forcible repatriation of more than 1,000 people who have fled across the border, claiming political persecution.