Teachers, health-care workers, miners and oil workers have launched a series of strikes demanding higher wages and an end to the government's privatization plans. Demonstrators clashed with the cops and the military several times in March. At least one worker has been killed.
The wave of strikes began on March 11, when 40 union leaders launched a hunger strike. Public-school and university teachers walked off the job.
On March 18, the Bolivian Workers Confederation (COB) called a general strike. The COB is protesting the government's decision to sell off the state-owned oil company.
At least 30,000 workers took to the streets of the capital, La Paz, on March 27. Cops attacked the demonstrators with rifles and tear gas.
Bolivian President Gonzalo S nchez de Lozada reflects the current "neoliberal" trend that has swept the ruling classes throughout Latin America. This trend, tied openly to the United States and the International Monetary Fund, is aimed at dismantling state-owned indus tries to bring more profit to the private sector. In past decades many basic industries--oil, power, and metals--were nationalized to protect local capitalists from domination by U.S. capital.
"We are one of the poorest countries in the world, and now they want to sell one of the last remaining resources we have--oil," said health worker Lucia Morales.
A wave of strikes last year in Bolivia prompted Sanchez to declare a state of siege.