Bolivia’s Unions Threaten Strike Protesting Food Price Hikes

LA PAZ, Feb 18 (BERNAMA-NNN-MERCOPRESS) — Bolivia’s powerful Workers Union (COB) have called for a 24 hours general strike beginning today against the government of President Evo Morales to protest food and public transport price hikes.

Citizens’ organisations in different cities have already been protesting price hikes and food shortages and the COB decision follows a cabinet reshuffle that was described by the organisation and opposition as “disappointing” and “irrelevant”, local media reported.

In the midst of the food and energy prices crisis COB, which in the past has toppled several governments but is an ally of President Morales was demanding the removal of the economic team.

Protestors marched to Government House yesterday calling for the sacking of the ministers. However President Morales limited changes to Labour and Culture ministries further infuriated protestors.

“We want a change of economic policy. The current crisis is biting into people’s stomachs” said Pedro Montes one of COB leaders and organiser of the strike action that will see several columns from workers areas converge into the capital La Paz later today.

Morales, the first indigenous elected president in Bolivia has seen his support plummet as food and fuel prices increase. Recently and on more than one occasion the once very popular leader has had to cancel political rallies warned before hand about possible protests and rioting.

At the end of last year he was forced to back step on fuel price increases because of several days’ protests.

Landlocked Bolivia famous for its tin and silver mines and lately for its huge natural gas deposits has an 80% indigenous population and is one of the poorest countries in South America, sources said.

The Bolivian workers central union is very strong politically and in the streets particularly miners’ organisations which tend to appeal to dynamite cartridges when attacked by police forces, sources said.

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