The drivers are striking due to a 73 percent increase in gasoline prices and an 83 percent increase in the cost of diesel fuel. The Bolivian government said it raised prices to encourage more fuel production in Bolivia and to cutdown on the smuggling of cheap, subsidized fuel across Bolivian borders to other countries.
“We cannot have low prices here and high prices outside [Bolivia], because then all our gasoline and diesel flow out like rivers. We have tried to protect ourselves from smuggling. We have mobilized the armed forces. We have done everything, but it’s impossible,” said Bolivian Vice President Álvaro García Linera, according to The Financial Times. “Our model of development needs to be protected. We will continue to grow and invest, but we cannot continue bleeding.”
Gas prices have been frozen for six years and the government says it can no longer afford to subsidize them.
The strike paralyzed transportation into Bolivia’s major urban areas and military transport vehicles were used to shuttle people to work.
“This won’t just affect the transport sector, this will affect everyone because all prices will rise,” said Franklin Durán, a spokesman for Bolivia’s bus drivers’ confederation, according to The BBC.
Vice President García Linera is in charge of the government while President Evo Morales is on a visit to Venezuela.
Republished from Latin America News Dispatch