The Price of Work

Jacqueline Patiño
Posted April 6, 2011 from Bolivia

On December 26th, 2010, Evo Morales changed the price of gasoline in Bolivia, to almost double it. The measure commenced a big social uprising and he was threatened to leave or die by the people in the streets. He understood the seriousness of the situation and returned the price to the way it was before. What are the consequences?

First, he lost popularity, and people in the streets do not believe in him anymore. He is not seen as a savior anymore, but as an enemy of the poor, so streets are crowded by people protesting against him and his policies everyday. He does not seem to know what to do.

Second, people are not afraid of speaking up anymore. Even though political trials are taking place everyday, people in the streets are too many to put in prison, so all his efforts to silence the opposition are being vain.

Third, people are asking for real increase of salaries, real inflation rates that will lead to real living costs in which to rely on for salary increase. This will take a lot of work from the government, as it does not show any information in papers or in the internet, about the real cost of life in Bolivia.

People in Bolivia live every day with expectation on which next decree or law will the government realease and how it will affect them. It is a matter of time to see how the government will construct, or will destroy, the lives of Bolivian people.

This goes beyond any ideology. It is about responsible governments. The hunger of people is a serious matter. Investments are key to better salaries, which are the only way to hinder hunger.

Which was the real outcome expected by the Morales administration through the gasoline increase? The change of job patterns. Right now, thanks to the nationalization of the natural gas business, the government owns 40% of the jobs. With the increase in gas prices, Morales would administrate 70% of the jobs. This means 7 out of 10 jobs would belong to the government, an institution that does not have money to invest, and pays minimum wages to people who swear loyalty to the MAS party, to which they have to give 10 percent of their pay, monthly. These jobs only last three months, as they have to leave space for new MAS workers.

With this reality tapping at our doors, Bolivian population is just waiting. The big question is... for how long?

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