Bolivia claims US stirring up strike trouble

LA PAZ (AFP) – The government of Bolivia Friday accused the United States of fomenting a strike by the country’s biggest union next week, as populist President Evo Morales struggled with growing labor unrest.

The indefinite stoppage by the Bolivian Workers Center umbrella trade union federation from next Monday is a significant challenge to Morales, who has long been confident of its support.

“Anybody who comes from the unions knows that a general, indefinite strike has political content. General indefinite strikes are called to overthrow governments,” Vice President Alvaro Garcia told reporters.

“No doubt behind this there could be some officials from the US embassy,” he said.

Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, is allied with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in espousing leftwing ideals and blaming political opposition at home on alleged US interference.

Since coming to power in 2006, he has nationalized energy and telecommunications businesses in his country, South America’s poorest, and pared back the power of the European-descended elite to give more rights to the indigenous majority.

While the policies, and strong regional demand for Bolivia’s all-important gas reserves, have bolstered the nation’s economic growth in recent years, Morales is now under pressure by workers and teachers demanding higher pay.

Before flying to New York Thursday to attend a UN meeting, Morales tried to portray the strikers as puppets of the conservative opposition.

“Some sectors seem to be suffering infiltration by the right to confuse the workers,” he said.

Rural unions loyal to Morales, notably those involved in coca-leaf farming, have said they will not take part in the strike.

But the Bolivian Workers Center said it planned a march on La Paz, and the powerful union covering the country’s factory workers vowed to expand a hunger-strike already underway to press for a pay rise above the five percent proposed by the government.

“We supported him (Morales) in elections and now is the moment for him to support the workers. His (proposed) raise is not enough to live on,” said Angel Asturizaga, leader of the national Factory Workers Union.

A former vice president, Victor Hugo Cardenas, said Morales was reaping the harvest of “false expectations” surrounding his populist rule.

“The president told us we would be swimming in money and people believed him and want to benefit from the bonanza. He whipped up a lot of talk that created a false image,” he said.

Source: AFP

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One Response to “Bolivia claims US stirring up strike trouble”

  1. InI » Bolivia Newslinks 6-10 May, 2010: Bolivia claims US stirring up strike trouble “ Bolivia Report Says:

    […] Bolivia claims US stirring up strike trouble “ Bolivia Report By boliviareport LA PAZ (AFP) – The government of Bolivia Friday accused the United States of fomenting a strike by the country’s biggest union next week, as populist President Evo Morales struggled with growing labor unrest. … boliviareport.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/bolivia-claims-us-stirring-up-strike-trouble/ […]

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