Bolivia: strikes paralyze La Paz, Cochabamba
Thousands of miners affiliated with the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) marched and blocked streets in the cities of La Paz and Cochabamba in a two-day strike April 24-5, throwing dynamite at police who formed a cordon around the presidential palace. The miners are demanding a pay raise above the 7% offered by the government this year. Authorities said that at east 30 were injured, including both protesters and police. Meanwhile, public health workers occupied the historic San Agustín church in central La Paz, where several initiated a hunger strike to press their own demands for a pay raise. They are also demanding that the Health Ministry overturn Decree 1126, which returns employees' workday from six hours to eight starting next month.
President Evo Morales' cabinet chief, Juan Ramón Quintana, said in a press conference that the government is ready to "open to doors to dialogue" to address "all the social conflicts in the country." (Bolivia Prensa, Pachamama Radio, Europa Press, April 25; AP, April 24)
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