Evo Morales went to Venezuela for Christmas and the vicepresident, Alvaro Garcia, put the new gasoline price up from Bs.3.41 to Bs.6.47/lt, declaring that this measure is needed to avoid gas from fleeing illegally to neighboring countries. The measure was taken right after Morales' party, MAS (Movement Towards Socialism - Movimiento al Socialismo) has passed several laws tailored to beat corruption and racism, which resulted in the imprisonment of many mayors and in the taking of 90% of the municipalities and State governments won by the opposition in the last elections, and only four days after the Tarija State Governor has been enforced to resign. Tarija´s territory and its natural gas reservoirs are the wallet of the country.
The end of low prices for gasoline is seen in two different ways by the government and by the opposition. While the government says that it is tailored to fight against the smuggling of gasoline and the saving of 380 million US Dollars, for the opposition this is not true. They say the real problem is the bankruptcy of the country, a fiscal deficit that was not measured well, the lack of investment, and the poor performance of the economic factors. In simple words, economists are accusing the government of overspending in salaries, not producing wealth and being inefficient to stop smugglers and drug dealers.
People have emptied the shelves of all supermarkets and public transportation is on strike. The few units in the streets have doubled and tripled the price of the ride. Marches and resistance are being scheduled throughout the week and the government has offered low prices in the military airline to transport passengers stranded in bus stations throughout the country.
Maya Quisberth, 45, declared that she has three children and no way to feed them in higher prices, so she is going to the march against the burden that the government is putting on her shoulders. She demands the government erases the decree so things will go back to normality.
Rossy E., 64, cried when asked how she was doing. She said that women and their children are going to suffer from famine and she knows how bad that is, as it is not the first time in her life a Bolivian government has increased the price of gasoline, but never in such a high percentage.
In poor neighborhoods, local stores have not opened and the ones serving the public did not want to sell more than one item per person. Big lines were formed immediately when stores announced the provision of sugar, flour or rice.
Maria Cristina Fernandez, director of the ECAM Tarija, an NGO dedicated to the empowerment of women, called the women of Tarija to gather today at 7 pm for marching against the decree, and demanding it is retired within the next 24 hours. “We have supported this government and we see this decree as a betrayal. It must be abolished right away. It is hurting women most, and we will not allow this to happen”, sentenced Fernandez.