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Bolivian police sixth day of mutiny: clashes between Morales supporters and strikers

Tuesday, June 26th 2012 - 04:36 UTC
Full article 3 comments
President Morales accuses the opposition of plotting a coup with the help of the mutinous police President Morales accuses the opposition of plotting a coup with the help of the mutinous police

Rebel police clashed with pro-government supporters Monday outside Bolivia's presidential palace in the capital La Paz on the sixth day of a mutiny demanding better pay.

About 1.000 police officers and 500 protesters threw punches and sticks on the Plaza de Armas, though no injuries were immediately reported. Police officers, clad in civilian clothes fired tear gas to disband their attackers.

After several minutes, the pro-government supporters retreated from the square. They represented social movements and trade unions allied with President Evo Morales, who has accused the right wing opposition of plotting a coup.

Late afternoon an estimated a thousand police had surrounded the square outside the presidential palace. It was unclear whether Morales was in the government palace, which was closed and under guard by a military unit not involved in the protests.

Since Thursday, Bolivian low-ranking police have rioted to demand a pay increase. Authorities accuse them of stockpiling weapons and pressuring other units to turn over their arms in an attempt to overthrow the populist t government, charges the protestors deny. But the mutiny has since spread across the country.

Refusing to budge from their demand for a minimum pay hike to 2.000 Pesos (287 dollars), from the current average of 195 dollars a month, police in La Paz disregarded union leaders for caving in to the government by signing a deal setting a smaller increase.

Police in cities like Santa Cruz, Potosi, Cochabamba and Beni have also rejected the deal, which would have seen pay packages boosted by 220 Bolivianos (32 dollars) a month, Catholic radio Fides reported.

The protester's demands also include full pay upon retirement, a police ombudsman and the overturning of a law that bans them from publicly expressing their opinions.

On Sunday, Morales alleged that those on strike, in partnership with the opposition, had plans to kill Interior Minister Carlos Romero and attack the military with Molotov cocktails.

National police chief Colonel Victor Maldonado, whom protesters are calling on to resign has ordered all officers to take up their regular duties in accordance with the deal.

The mutiny began Thursday when protesters took over the headquarters of the country's riot police and eight other police stations. It then spread to more than two dozen police stations and command centres across the country.

The Army has been sent out to the streets to help with some minimum patrolling but President Morales pledged troops would not be ordered to raid police stations and arrest mutineers. Memories of a repeat of a police protest back in 2003 are still very much fresh. At the time the strike was quashed with the military causing dozens of deaths.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • ChrisR

    Another coup in the making!

    So, if as the coca chewer-in-chief reckons the rioters have stolen weapons, why the use of Molotov Coctails?

    No doubt Morales will enlist the heroes of Mercosur to come to his aid before he is chucked out of office by his own people.

    Jun 26th, 2012 - 08:31 pm 0
  • Boovis

    At last it seems the people rather than the nutbar leftist autocrats are taking the power, now maybe they can have some actual democracy rather than this joke of an autocracy they've collectively become.

    Jun 27th, 2012 - 09:40 am 0
  • British_Kirchnerist

    This “police revolt” seems uncannily similar to the one Correa survived; I predict Morales will survive too, because the people, contrary to #1&2, don't want to go back to the bad old days

    Jun 27th, 2012 - 11:03 am 0
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