19 august strike

(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

August 18, 2008

This warden message is being issued to inform U.S. citizens traveling
to and residing in Bolivia that a 24-hour general strike has been
called by the Departments of Pando, Beni, Santa Cruz, Tarija, and
Chuquisaca to protest gas revenue sharing with the central government.
The strike is scheduled for Tuesday, 19 August 2008. During such
general strikes, all businesses, public transportation, and private
vehicles will be shut down and not permitted to operate. However, the
Viru Viru International Airport in Santa Cruz will remain open with
special transportation (authorized by the department of Santa Cruz)
available for traveling passengers. Enforcement to violations of the
general strike by non-governmental "civic groups" may be harsh and
severe. There are reports that Bolivian National Police (BNP) and
special military police garrisons are to be on call to provide
critical infrastructure protection. We ask American citizens to read
the country-specific information on Bolivia, available at
http://www.travel.state.gov, specifically the information under
"Safety and Security."

There is a higher potential for confrontation between opposing
political forces as tensions may escalate from high to critical.
There are also reports that roads between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz
may be blocked by counter-demonstrators. As a result, all U.S.
mission facilities in Santa Cruz, Department of Santa Cruz, and
Trinidad, Department of Beni, will not be open during the general
strike, and U.S. mission employees are to remain indoors. This means
that the consular agency in Santa Cruz will be closed. Please note
that the general strike does not affect the Departments of La Paz and
Cochabamba, so U.S. mission activities in La Paz and Cochabamba will
remain open for business as usual.

As a reminder, if anyone leaves their residences and encounter
demonstrations or large gatherings, you are instructed to leave the
area immediately. In addition to this potential civil unrest, it is
not uncommon for streets to be blocked by protesters. As a result,
where traffic is impassable, your presence as a US citizen may incite
crowds to use you as a convenient target of opportunity. While the
local police will be present, they may not be able to respond to your
individual situation. In addition, the US embassy or US consular
agency in Santa Cruz will not be able to respond to your situation
should you encounter any problems.

American citizens may wish to access tips on emergency preparedness
through the Department of Homeland Security's web site at

Americans residing or traveling in Bolivia are encouraged to register
and update their contact information at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz
and/or the U.S. consular agencies in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz,
Bolivia. Registration may be done online and can be done in advance
of travel. Information on registering may be found at the Department
of State's Consular Affairs web site:

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for
Bolivia and the latest Travel Alerts and Warnings and Worldwide
Caution at the Department's web site at http://travel.state.gov.
Updated information on travel and security in Bolivia may also be
obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within
the United States or by calling 1-202-501-4444 outside the United
States. During regular work hours, the American Citizens Services
unit at the Embassy in La Paz may be reached at 591-2-216-8297. The
consular agencies may be reached in Santa Cruz at 591-3-351-3477
(except Tuesday, August 19) and in Cochabamba at 591-4-411-6313.

We hope this information is useful to you. If we may provide further
assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

American Citizen Services Unit
U.S. Embassy La Paz, Bolivia

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