Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Destruction left by one of the explosions.

Two explosions were heard in the city of La Paz, Bolivia on Tuesday night, March 22 and in the early morning Wednesday, March 23. The first occurred at the Linares Motel, at 21:50 (01:50 UTC), and left two people dead and four injured. The second explosion occurred at 01:45 (05:45 UTC) at the Hotel Riosinhio II, less than a block from the La Paz bus terminal, injuring two people.

Hours later, two suspects in the crime were arrested by the police in the city of El Alto. They were American Claudio Lestat, approximately 30 years old (25 according to some sources) and his partner, Uruguayan Alda Ribeiros, of 35 years (40 according to other sources). Dynamite was used in both explosions, according to government attorney Jorge Gutiérrez.

President Evo Morales indicated that the promoters of the incidents were “industrialists” and “oligarchists” who, “using external agents”, claimed to halt the reforms that have been happening in Bolivia. He also suggested that the United States could be behind the incidents: “Is there an effort against terrorism from the government of the United States, or did they send North Americans to commit terrorism in Bolivia?” Despite the accusations, the United States embassy in La Paz announced its cooperation.

However, authorities have not ruled out religious motives, because Lestat is a self-proclaimed “minister of pagan rites”. Police also announced that the Chilean consulate in the Bolivian capital was also a target, to be attacked on Saturday the 25th.

Names and ages of the victims of the explosions are: Marlene Patzi Tapia (26), Cristian López (26), Alva Natividad Heredia (44), and Jessica Wilson (24), the last from the United States. Also affected were Marco Antonio Romero Galindo (20), Iván Quiroga (27), Elizabeth de Quiroga (44) and Ximena Vargas (18).

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