January 06, 2005

Bolivia Unrest Starts Early On

MABB is a registered TM.

As a result of the step taken by the Government of Bolivia (GOB), on December 31, to end the subsidies to gas and diesel, social unrest has sprung again and is in the process of spreading, triggering an endless call for paros and demostraciones by the different civic and social organizations.

The elimination of the subsidy has effectively raised prices, not only for gas and diesel, but also for products like bread, milk, meat, etc. As a result, the entire population has felt the effects of the GOB's actions. That is not good.

As it was to be expected, the civic and social organizations took the opportunity to, once again, be the protagonists and fight against these injustice.

The latest count stands like this:
  1. Members of congress from the MNR, MAS, NFR and others, are seeking explanations from Mesa and his economic team. They want to know, why were the subsides not renewed.
  2. Santa Cruz's Central Obrera Departamental (Central Worker's Union), organized a demonstration, which ended in confrontation with the police.
  3. The National Driver's Union staged a general strike, which was not followed in the entire national territory, the way it was intended.
  4. The Bolivian Central Worker's Union (Central Obrera Boliviana) called for a strike on January 10.
  5. The organization representing street sellers and small businesses, Departmental Federation of Minor-business-people, also called for a demonstration against the raise in prices.
  6. The teacher's union in various departments is considering delaying the start of the school year in protest.
  7. The FEJUVE, El Alto's Federacion de Juntas Vecinales (Federation of Neighborhood Organizations), decided to call for an indefinite general strike to, among other things, expel Aguas del Illimani (the water company) out of El Alto.

Let's see how ugly it gets. The next two weeks will be very interesting. Depending on how the GOB responds and what actions it uses, we'll see if it stays in power or not. Personally, I am kind of hoping Mesa rides this out. I would very much like to see how he deals with the Constituent Assembly.