Evo Morales accuses sectors of the workers movement of being “instruments of the empire”

July 19, 2008

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, today accused some sectors of the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) of being instruments of “North American imperialism” for demanding the approval of a new pension law, which according to him is unsustainable.

“I know that some sectors of the COB are the best instruments of the empire, of North American imperialism” affirmed the head of state, referring to the announcement by the leadership of the workers convoking a strike in defence of its proposed law.

The head of state questioned the proposal by the workers, although he assured that the executive would improve it before presenting it to Congress, in front of a massive mobilisation in the locality of Caracollo, in the Bolivian altiplano, where he was handing over funds for public works.

Morales said that the COB proposal confiscated individual contributions and affect the Treasury, which in little over five years would have to pay US$17,000 million, generating a fiscal deficit which it is not able to sustain.

The leftist head of state informed that the workers’ proposed law would be improved and handed over to Congress in the next few days, guaranteeing a new pension law, and asked the COB “to not harm the people will the call for an indefinite strike.”

“The right is preparing itself, last night in Sucre they said that they will stage a hunger strike, mobilisations, around the issue of the IDH (Direct Tax on Petroleum), and some leaders of the COB are also calling for an indefinite general strike, road block”, he said.

Morales was referring to the decision of the National Democratic Council (Conalde), comprised of the six opposition prefects (governors), who issued a deadline of August 4 for the restoration of a regional petroleum rent, confiscated last year to pay a pension to people of the third age.

The opposition prefects announced that otherwise they would begin a national strike, just days out from the recall referendum set for August 10, where the president, vice president and eight prefects will have the continuity of their mandates decided at the ballot box.

“The government is guaranteeing a new pension law which will be universal, for all Bolivian men and women, a law which will eliminate the AFPs (Administrators of Pension Funds). We are going to improve the COB’s proposal,” insisted the head of state.

For the last eight years, the Bolivian pension system has been managed by the AFPs “Forecast”, owned by the Spanish bank Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), and “Future”, of the Swiss group Zurich Financial Service

According to 2007 reports, the AFPs control more than US$2,200 million and have US$1,2 million in contributions.

Translated from Union Radio

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