Today just hours before new year President Evo Morales gave a press conference where he announced that he will “obey the people” and annule Supreme Decree 748 which he had his vice president announce while visiting Venezuela on December 26th. Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera had announced on December 26th that Bolivia spends 380 million dollars subsidizing fuel each year. The decree had caused gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and vehicular natural gas prices to skyrocket by 57% to 82% and led to a nation wide bus and transport strike that paralyzed the country during the holidays. Morales’ spokesman Ivan Canelas had announced to the national press that this move to cut subsidies was “valiant and patriotic” because the gas subsidies were “shedding Bolivia’s blood and neoliberal” and “this is why all the right-wing opposition leaders and ex-mayors of neoliberal ex-presidents agree in denouncing this decree.” Morales has spent the past 4 days justifying his decision to end gas subsidies, calling them “neoliberal” and blaming transport workers for raising prices. Bolivian groups have been almost unanimous in denouncing the gas-hike, even the coca growers unions which Evo used to lead decided to block the Cochabamba-Santa Cruz road.CONTINUES HERE
By some fluke your author actually caught this announcement live last night but was too busy drinking champagne to post on it. Here’s Bolivia Weekly with its version.
I also like Bolivia Weekly’s end comment: “To learn more look at any Bolivian newspaper”, but click through to BW and read the rest, because it does a good job in covering the bases.
What’s noticeable is that word “neoliberal”…..the subsidies were neoliberal so had to go…then protesters said Evo’s decision was neoliberal….now the decree has been overturned because of its neoliberal opposition. In other words, the only spark of good about this episode is how everyone uses ‘neoliberal’ as a term of disparagement in Bolivia….we’re all Marxists now, baby. But really, although it’s good that he had the guts to U-turn on this, the last week in Bolivia will go down as an embarrassment for Evo and a real Banana Republic moment for the country.