That offer has done little to halt demonstrators demanding more power for Bolivia's poor Indian majority. Some shout slogans against President Carlos Mesa's unraveling free-market government. Others are calling for early elections. President Carlos Mesa, his 19-month-old government falling apart, announced his resignation in a nationally televised address.
"In a nation that boasts more coups than years as an independent republic, President Carlos Mesa's resignation is not surprising and is more likely this time to be accepted by the Bolivian Congress," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk. "Unlike former Bolivian presidents who have fled in small boats across Lake Titicaca, President Mesa is attempting to leave the country with a clean slate, allowing the legislature to chose a president who is perceived to be more responsive to the nation's poor. "
Mesa addressed his countrymen late Monday, hours after the riot police acted with force to try to scatter more than 100-thousand protestors and demonstrators attempting to lay siege to the Government Palace. This was the largest demonstration in La Paz in weeks.
Disgruntled miners created thunderous booms by tossing dynamite sticks. The riot police dragged them from their yellow dump trucks parked in blockades -- beating some of them. Soldiers are taking up posts around the city. More than 500 protesters were turned away by acrid tear gas as they tried to close in on Mesa's seat of power. No injuries were immediately reported, but police made 22 arrests, among them protesters accused of brandishing dynamite, according to state television Canal Siete.