Bolivian President Evo Morales repealed on Friday night the decree issued five days ago to raise gasoline prices, after a meeting with his cabinet, trade unions, and social organizations in La Paz.
“We have decided, in governing in obedience to the people, to repeal Supreme Decree 748 and other decrees that accompany it,” the leader of Bolivia said in a message to the country from the Palacio Quemado, the seat of the executive branch.
Flanked by Vice President Alvaro García Linera and Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, Morales highlighted the simultaneous repeal of his last decree, issued last Wednesday, raising the minimum wage as well as the compensations of uniformed officers, teachers, and health workers by 20%.
“I wish to say to the Bolivian people that this means all the recent measures are null and void,” Morales emphasized, while demanding that the prices of mass consumption goods, especially all categories of transportation, be returned to what they were before Sunday, 26 December.
“There is no justification now to raise fare prices or to increase food prices, let alone speculation. Everything goes back to the status quo ante,” he underscored, mentioning the promise to “govern in obedience to the people” that he made when he took the helm of the nation in January 2006.
Morales said that he had held — over the last several days when a series of protests arose against his decision to bring the Bolivian prices of imported gasoline in line with the prevailing prices in the regional market, which meant the end of the state fuel subsidy worth 380 million dollars — “profound” meetings with peasant unions and social organizations, who judged the timing of the measure raising fuel prices, though in the end necessary for the good of the Bolivian economy, as “inappropriate.”
“I thank the social movements who have met us: Thank you, brothers and sisters of the countryside. While firmly defending this measure that benefits the Bolivian people, we received the advice that ‘the time is not right for it and it, clearly, is a hard blow to the national economy.’ Nevertheless, we are accountable to the Bolivian people,” the president said about the repeal, in a ten-minute speech he made a little over an hour after the advent of 2011.
Morales emphasized that, after meeting with trade union and social organization leaders for much of the day, “I understood, having carefully listened to suggestions from various sectors over the last several days.”
However, the head of state emphatically pointed out that Bolivia spent, in 2005-2010, at least 1.75 billion dollars on importing gasoline.
The decree for gasoline import was promulgated in 1988, and a decade later the administration of conservative former president Hugo Banzer decided to subsidize fuels.