Ousted President Lidia Gueiler, who took asylum in the Vatican Embassy here following a coup by the armed forces Thursday, was expected to leave the country today as military leaders continued to tighten their grip on Bolivia's major cities and mining districts.
In a lengthy speech a few hours before being sworn in as president yesterday, Army commander Gen. Luis Garcia Meza forbade any labor union activities and declared, "There will be no electoral adventures in our country." His speech was laced with references to the military's "cosmic mission" to save the country.
Foreign observers, who stayed off the capital's nearly deserted streets as soldiers and well-armed paramilitary soldiers patrolled in armored vehicles, civilian trucks and ambulances, commented on the "efficiency" of the coup in which most potential union or political leaders of resistance were either killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
The archbishop of La Paz issued a statement denouncing the military takeover and decried the "use of ambulances to help the military, not humanitarian purposes." He demanded the release of political and union leaders, as well as the "unknown number of religious leaders and priests who are being detained."
Among those being held are 25 Bolivian journalists, seized when the presidential palace was taken over, and Gueiler and her Cabinet arrested, Thursday. Sources said the journalists, including one from The Associated Press, have been taken to the military garrison.
The military government is making every effort to keep information from those inside and outside of the country. All radio stations, except for a few in the remote tin-mining areas, are controlled by the military. No newspapers are publishing.
The headquarters of the country's leading union federation, where one labor leader reportedly was killed and scores were arrested during the takeover, is surrounded by heavily armed troops.
There are traces of civilian resistance, however. Remote mining districts with their own broadcasting systems continue to radio appeals for workers and peasants to resist.
On Thursday night, armed cadets from the military academy reportedly forced their way into the apartment of an American employe of Beechcraft Corp. working under contract to the U.S. government, shot him in the face and sacked the residence. Thomas Watson and his wife were held overnight and today he was reported to be in good condition.
Asked why the military is so interested in ruling this country, which has undergone nearly 200 changes of government in its 155 years of independence, a conservative businessman from the second largest city of Santa Cruz said with surprising candor, "power and money."