Bolivians strike and demonstrate against raised fuel prices, 2010

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Timing
Time Period:  
26 December
2010
to
31 December
2010
Location and Goals
Country: 
Bolivia
Location City/State/Province: 
La Paz, El Alto, Santa Cruz, Potosi, Oruro, and Cochabamba
Goals: 
To prevent the elimination of fuel subsidies and thus the raising of fuel prices.
 

On Sunday 26 December Bolivia’s government abruptly ended a six-year freeze on fuel prices, raising the price of gasoline by 73% and diesel by 83%. Vice president Alvaro Garcia said this change in policy was necessary because the subsidy cost US$380 million a year- 2% of Bolivia’s gross domestic national product and US$150 million of the gasoline was smuggled into other countries and sold at higher prices. The cost of the subsidies was projected to increase to over US$1 billion in 2011. The artificially low prices discouraged development of Bolivia’s gasoline resources and created a reliance on oil imports from Venezuela. Bus drivers said they would strike and teachers said they would hold street demonstrations.

On Monday 27 December the Confederation of Drivers (CCHB), representing 175,000 workers, began to strike bringing bus and taxi services to a halt, and teachers began a partial work-stop strike. The government used military vehicles to transport citizens for free during the strike.

Other unions from around the country not directly related to transportation including Bolivian Workers Central or Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) supported CCHB and met in La Paz to discuss further actions on 28 December.

On 29 December President Evo Morales announced a plan to raise the national minimum wage by 20% to compensate for the fuel price hikes. The COB threatened to organize a national strike if the President did not keep this promise to raise the minimum wage.

On 30 December the protest demonstrations, which became known as “gasolinazo,” engulfed the country. Transportation was crippled due to the transportation strike. Truck drivers blocked key intersections in Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and outside La Paz. In the mining cities of Potosi and Oruro workers went on strike and staged street demonstrations.

In the capital city of La Paz, police used tear gas to disperse protestors marching on the Presidential Palace. Nearby, thousands of demonstrators barricaded roads in El Alto, the residential neighborhood where the international airport is located. Demonstrators burned tires, automobiles, and a Venezuelan flag. They threw rocks at government buildings and police officers, injuring fifteen, two of them seriously.

Police responded by lobbing tear gas at demonstrators in El Alto and at angry mobs burning tollbooths on the highway between El Alto and La Paz.

La Paz Mayor Luis Revilla, a former ally of Evo Moralez, then led a protest march against the fuel hike in La Paz. Five police were injured, one in critical condition, and 16 protestors were arrested for use of violence. Protestors damaged buildings across Bolivia containing government offices or offices of organizations tied to Evo Morales.

Evo Morales mobilized the military to distribute basic supplies to civilians for free during the crisis.

Late on Friday, 31 December, Evo Morales reinstated the fuel subsidy stating “There is no justification for raising transportation fares or food prices right now.” He maintained that it was necessary to raise fuel prices eventually.

Research Notes
Influences: 

This campaign was influenced by protests that removed Evo Morales' predecessor from office. (1)

Sources: 
"Bolivia hikes gasoline prices 73 pct; protests hit." The Associated Press. (December 26, 2010 Sunday 07:36 PM GMT ): 116 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Sharp fuel increase in Bolivia triggers strike." Agence France Presse -- English. (December 27, 2010 Monday 9:55 PM GMT ): 409 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivia hikes gasoline prices 73%; bus drivers, teachers vow unrest." Charleston Gazette (West Virginia). (December 27, 2010, Monday ): 124 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

The Daily Gleaner (New Brunswick). (December 27, 2010 Monday ): 622 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivia hit by transport strike." Deutsche Presse-Agentur. (December 27, 2010 Monday 1:49 PM EST ): 174 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Fuel price surge prompts strike call in Bolivia." International Business Times News. (December 27, 2010 Monday 8:50 AM EST ): 410 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

News, BNO. "Bolivian transportation workers begin strike after fuel price increases." BNO News. (December 28, 2010 Tuesday 4:28 AM EST ): 464 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivian President Promises Minimum Wage Rise After Lifting of Fuel Subsidy." Global Insight. (December 29, 2010 ): 443 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivian president seeks support for fuel price increase." CNN.com. (December 29, 2010 Wednesday 9:55 PM EST ): 324 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivia paralyzed by fuel hike protests." Agence France Presse -- English. (December 30, 2010 Thursday 9:00 PM GMT ): 712 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivians to march against fuel price hike." Agence France Presse -- English. (December 30, 2010 Thursday 4:12 AM GMT ): 420 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"15 police hurt as Bolivians protest fuel hike." Agence France Presse -- English. (December 31, 2010 Friday 2:52 AM GMT ): 739 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Protests intensify in Bolivia over gasoline prices." The Associated Press. (December 31, 2010 Friday 02:14 AM GMT ): 518 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Five injured, 16 arrested in Bolivia fuel price protests." Deutsche Presse-Agentur. (December 31, 2010 Friday 5:00 AM EST ): 379 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivian president rescinds decree that raised fuel prices." Agence France Presse -- English. (January 1, 2011 Saturday 11:06 AM GMT ): 667 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

"Bolivia's Morales: Fuel prices to rise 'someday'." The Associated Press. (January 1, 2011 Saturday 10:33 PM GMT ): 119 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/16.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Jonathan White, 16/03/2013