La Paz, 10 May — The President’s Chief of Staff, Óscar Coca, said on Monday that no general strike is happening in Bolivia, referring to the indefinite general strike called by the Bolivian Workers’ Center (COB), and asked the leaders of this trade union organization to make sensible decisions on their demands.
In a press conference, Coca argued that the situation in the country is normal, according to the reports that he received from the capitals of all nine departments, midsize cities, and rural areas regarding whether there are sectors abiding by the COB’s strike tactic.
“We wish to make clear, beyond a shadow of doubt, that there is no general strike going on in this country. It’s business as usual. In some locations, there have been pressures to mobilize groups and paralyze daily activities, but that, I think, has been overcome completely by the determination of the people, citizens, to work, produce, and advance in this process of change,” he said.
The Chief of Staff exhorted the workers to maintain that attitude and to “not let themselves be swayed by some individuals who are rather in a state of adventurism that will come to no good,” for the country in his view is moving forward.
“The change will not be stopped. Various social movements that are trying to work for the people, for the population, for citizens, are going to be in sync with the government, whose premise is working with the people and for the people, rather than serving ourselves at the expense of the people,” he vouched.
Hours before, he had announced that the government signed a document with the leaders of the COB regarding some agreements reached on the drafting of a new Pension Law which will lower the retirement age of miners to 56 and that of other workers to 58.
He said that, in the meetings that began last Friday and lasted into the early morning of Monday, various points were clarified, leaving open the possibility of continuing discussion in future meetings.
“In our view, there is no longer any reason to apply any pressure tactic. I think that in the next several hours they will consider that, and we expect them to make a sensible tactical decision,” he opined.
Despite the accords, a splinter group of the Bolivian Workers Center launched a march from the Andean town of Caracollo to La Paz, demanding a higher wage increase than the 5% decreed by the government. The march consisted of less than 300 leaders, a majority of whom are miners, manufacturing workers, teachers, and health care workers.
The original article “Ministro de la Presidencia asegura que no hay ningún paro en el país y pide decisión sensata a la COB” was published by Agencia Boliviana de Información on 10 May 2010. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).