Bolivia news roundup
Striking school teachers take a hostage; BONOSOL payments start today; internal splits w/in MAS continue; voter registration beats CNE expectations.
Despite a pre-agreement to increase salaries by 3% & government threats to dock salaries of striking teachers, teachers remain on strike. Chuquisaca teachers took a vice minister hostage, until the government meets all their demands. The Education Minister, Donato Ayma, is being criticized for not closing ranks w/ other government officials — he specifically rescinded the government's threat to dock striking teachers' pay. Teachers clashed w/ police in La Paz, leaving 14 arrested & 8 injured. There are more bloqueo threats, including cutting the road from La Paz to El Alto — which would leave the capital completely isolated.
The elderly pension fund — BONOSOL (created by the first Goni administration) — begins payments today for all Bolivian citizens 65 years old or older. All recipients born in January can collect this month; other birthdays collect in later months. Despite rumors of reducing the amount, this year's recipients will collect Bs.1,800 (about $227).
After Evo Morales accused many of his MAS senators (including Filemon Escobar) of corruption & receiving payments, the opposition party's been internally divided. The senators refuse to submit themselves to party discipline, demanding Morales prove his accusations. The Morales-Escobar split is significant, and could spell trouble for the cocaleros' efforts to develop cohesive political action.
The National Electoral Court (CNE) is pleased w/ the high rates of voter registration for the national gas referendum. Despite uncertainty about the future of the referendum — Santa Cruz parliamentarians are hoping to block or alter the referendum — the number of registered voters surpassed expectations. A total of 481,752 people registered to vote. Nearly 3 million people voted in the 2002 election.
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