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U.S. to help Bolivia deter rioters

July 19, 2005 at 3:21 PM

LA PAZ, Bolivia, July 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department is looking for ways to better protect and arm the Bolivian military and police by providing them with riot gear.

A U.S. official in La Paz told United Press International Tuesday that the United States is "exploring with the government of Bolivia their ability to resolve demonstration in a non-lethal way."

The State Department has said it needs defense companies to beginning bidding on an order for riot gear for nearly 4,000 Bolivian troops and other non-lethal crowd-control equipment.

Concerns regarding Bolivia's crowd-control capabilities were sparked anew last month when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the administration of President Carlos Mesa, who eventually resigned.

Though there was only one fatality during the weeks of protests, demonstrations in past years in La Paz and elsewhere in Bolivia left dozens dead.

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