Bolivian parade goes off without a hitch
August 7. 2007. Story from Miami Herald. Associated Press.

LA PAZ, Bolivia -- President Evo Morales' government held a military and Indian parade in a center of anti-government sentiment on Tuesday without the feared violence that prompted a U.S. Embassy warning to Americans.

More than 10,000 uniformed soldiers and Indians in traditional dress marched down an airport runway in the eastern city of Santa Cruz in honor of Bolivia's Armed Forces Day.

Many in the lowland city, a hotbed of anti-Morales sentiment, are demanding greater autonomy and some local leaders had cast the event as an unwelcome display of force by the populist president.

The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia had warned Americans not to attend the event, citing "potential violence" between marchers and counter-demonstrations by Santa Cruz groups.

But the fact the event was kept away from city streets may have helped avoid any conflicts in the city, where racial tension sometimes is mixed with political differences.

Santa Cruz Mayor Percy Fernandez said on Monday he was not against Morales' parade, but that it should not have "so many Indians."