Bolivia: Social mobilizations question Morales government
The IX mobilization, COB organizes a unified demand, Health workers take the streets conmemorating Labour Day
The IX mobilization for the protection of the TIPNIS starts
Last Friday, the IX indigenous mobilizations in defence of the TIPNIS started its journey toward La Paz with an Andean ceremony in the city of Trinidad, the capital of the Beni region. However, the march has an important absence, the TIPNIS leader Fernando Vargas who has being hospitalized.
Around 150 leaders gathered in the plaza (central square) of Trinidad to participate in an Andean ceremony, and to receive the support of the local population. The march expected to reach Puerto Varador, around 20 km were the participants will sleep. On Saturday, they expect to reach near Río Tigomuchín, and cover around 40 Km.
Adolfo Chávez, the president of Cidob (Confederación de pueblos indígenas de Bolivia – Bolivia Indigenous People Confederation) asserted that they were waiting on the rapid recovery of Fernando Vargas to march toward La Paz. However, they agreed that his health is weak and that “it is not good to expose him to this.”
The mobilization expects to reach the government seat rejecting the building of the road Villa Tunari-San Ignacio de Moxos that will be decided on the previous consultation that will take place on next May.
Responses from La Paz
Last Sunday, while Congressmen dismissed again the abolishment of the ley de consulta previa (Law of previous consultation) in the TIPNIS, the IX march which opposes this norm could not continue its walk from Puerto Varador toward La Paz because of the heavy rains in the region.
The President of the Congress, Rebeca Delgado, affirmed “the state is following with its obligation, and it cannot abolish the Law 222 (of previous consultation) because of political, historical, legal, and technical reasons. If we do abolish it, this will go against the rights of the indigenous people y that will be treason.”
For Delgado, to listen to the demand of the TIPNIS indigenous will mean to “go back” in what has been achieved. She said: “this will mean go back to nothing, in this case, it would be as if we did not have a Constitution, dismissing the mandate we have received from the Constituent Assembly”
The bad weather stops mobilization
The bad weather has stopped the march, particularly for the high flow on the rivers. Some of the participants are concern with this situation, because they intend to continue the march. However, the bad weather will continue, which means that the march does not have a definitive day to continue its walk toward La Paz.
On Sunday, the mobilization group was stationary around tents placed on the schools of Puerto Varador. For some of the protesters, this meant a physical relief and a time to rest to continue the march on the next days.
This time was also used for different indigenous organizations, like Conamaq (Consejo Nacional de de Ayllus y Markas del Quillasuyo – National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Quillasuyo), whose members met to detail the demand they will make to the national government. The group of the IX march was waiting for the arrival of around 50 indigenous from the TIPNIS, who will strength the march.
COB expects to articulate conflict sectors
The Central Obrera Boliviana (COB – Bolivian Union Workers) is bringing together the diverse groups in conflict with the government, including the health sector. This arrives in a difficult week for the Bolivian government that will start on May 1 with a massive mobilization.
Physicians and health workers in general have been on strike since the beginning of April. They have announced that they will take extreme measures like the mass blockage of roads. Meanwhile the COB will define on Thursday, in a national meeting, their protest actions.
Other social conflict that the government will face is the strike on public transportation. This union has announced that they will hold a 48 hours strike on May 7 and 8. Its leaders are asking an increasing on the public fare in all transportation system. The government has rejected this demand.
On April, President Morales rejected to COB’s proposal, that demanded: the abolishment of the Decrete 1126 that establishes eight hours of labour for the health personnel, an increasing of the basic salary of Bs 1.000 ($145); as well as an increasing of 8% for health and education (see Bolivia this week 15/04/12). In response, last Sunday the different Ministers defended the government position and the impossibility of any sort of change.
The Health Workers’ secretary, José Gonzales, affirmed that the government has not answered any of his group’s proposals: “The President says that the fourth points of the demand are no viable economically (…). This government does not have the intention to solve the conflict.”
The COB boss, José Luis Delgado, also asserted that the union is rejecting the offers made by government and stated that in the national meeting next Thursday May 3 in La Paz, there will be an evaluation about the meeting with President Morales. In addition, it will an analysis about the progress on the negotiations on the three topics demanded, which will define the following actions. This does not denied an undefined strike with major road blockages.
Health Workers continue on strike around the country
Today Monday, around 70 health workers from La Paz and El Alto are on these cities’ streets, protesting against the Decrete that force them to work 8 hours on the health sector.
Ricardo Alegría, the worker’s leader from the Corea Hospital in El Alto stated “health workers do not avoid the job, we want to work, but we want to be included in the Ley General del Trabajo (General Labour Law).”
In Santa Cruz, the situation is not different. Health workers and medical doctors from this city decided to radicalize their pressure measures through the blockage of road and highways. For tomorrow they have called a general mobilization, where health workers will dress on black as symbol of grief for what they have lost on labour laws.
The health workers strike started on March 28, after the approval of the Decree 1126 that extends their working time from 6 to 8 hours without compensation. The strike has caused disruptions on the health service around Bolivia. In addition, the union demands the inclusion on the Ley General del Trabajo, demand that the government has rejected because they do not have enough budget.