271. Editorial Note

During September 1956, inflation in Bolivia soared, and there were portents of developing food shortages. On September 22, 2,000 persons staged a hunger demonstration in La Paz, and shortly thereafter organized attacks on the government newspaper, radio station, traffic police headquarters, and other government and MNR party installations, during which the newspaper and radio station were destroyed. Although the demonstration was organized by rightist opposition elements, especially the Bolivian Socialist Falange, there were indications that some of the violence was caused by members of the MNR left wing, which wished to force abandonment of President Siles’ economic policies and a possible rapprochement between the President and the opposition. (Department of State, Central Files, 724.00/10–256 and 724.00(W)/10–556) The situation reached major political proportions when Juan Lechín resigned the Presidency of the Senate on September 27, in an attempt to force a vote of confidence and thus strengthen his position vis-à-vis Siles. The crisis was resolved and party unity maintained when Lechín withdrew his resignation on September 30. (Ibid., 724.00(W)/9–2856 and 824.00/10–556)