http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080504/...eferendum_dc_6

Sun May 4, 7:27 PM ET SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Bolivia's richest region of Santa Cruz voted overwhelmingly for autonomy on Sunday in a vote widely seen as a rejection of President Evo Morales' leftist reforms, exit polls showed.

The vote was the first of four referendums on greater autonomy from central government being planned by Bolivia's eastern lowland provinces, deepening a divide between Morales' supporters and the conservative opposition.

According to the pollster Focaliza cited by local television, Santa Cruz residents voted 86 percent in favor of autonomy and 14 percent against. The result had been widely expected because Morales backers vowed to boycott the polls and the exit polls did not estimate turnout.

On the streets of Santa Cruz city, residents honked car horns as they celebrated victory in a referendum that Morales had branded as illegal.