Bolivia 'close' to split after violence, eastern strike :
SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia -- Racial and economic tensions tearing at the social fabric of Bolivia have been laid bare by a general strike on Friday that sparked violent clashes and paralyzed the eastern half of the country.
"We are very close to a separation of the two regions of Bolivia," said Ruben Dario Cuellar, a deputy for the conservative Podemos party, which accuses President Evo Morales of trying to force through a new constitution that would institutionalize an indigenous socialist state. All commerce and transport halted during the daylong work stoppage called by opposition leaders and regional governors in the four eastern provinces that produce 60 percent of Bolivia's economic output. (...) But Mr. Cuellar said the country is "divided between two visions. The west wants to take us back a thousand years to a savage primitivism while the east wants to move toward the future through a culture of free enterprise."