July 30, 2008

August Will Be a Hot Month in Bolivia

MABB © ®

One can already see the wave of protests and political bickering approaching to Bolivia in August.

First and foremost will be the August 10 recall referendum. It will bring an intense campaign, as well as potential for violence with both sides trying to force the vote for either side.

At the same time there is a wave of demonstrations, strikes, marches and other actions coming. One of them is the August 8 strike by the transport sector. Mainly in Cochabamba, this group wants to increase fares, to which the government is opposed arguing the benefits from gas subsidies are enough to offset any loses. The government also announced punishment to those bus drivers who increase fares. The strike will be for 24 hours and perhaps will go beyond that.

In addition, Central Workers Union (COB) has been staging protests and marches to force the government to stop its plans for a redesign of the pensions system and instead take into account the union's own proposal. The COB was already repressed in Cochabamba where police broke the road blocks. However, the COB has announced the intensification of the protests and has indicated that these protests will take place mainly in La Paz.

In Santa Cruz, there is a hunger strike planned for these days. The civic organizations in cooperation with some groups aligned with the departmental government want to fast to force the government give back the proceeds emerging from the sell of natural gas (IDH). This includes Tarija, Beni, Pando, Sucre and Sta. Cruz.

In addition, around the country there are a number of protests and road blocks pressuring the government for this and that. In Sucre, the teacher's union has been blocking access roads because they demand better pay.

Finally, the MAS aligned cocaleros in Cochabamba have expressed their intention to stage marches and even intervene the offices of some departmental electoral courts if they do not continue with the organization of the recall referendum.

August will be a busy month for people who cover Bolivia.