Bolivia Police Strike for Fifth Day After Rejecting Accord

A nationwide strike by Bolivian police entered its fifth day with officers clashing with supporters of President Evo Morales in La Paz after the rank-and-file yesterday rejected the government’s proposed pay increase.

The strikers are demanding a wage increase of about $100 per month to put them on par with basic military salaries of about $300 a month. Police protesters rejected a deal with the government signed by their representatives yesterday that called for a $30 increase, claiming they were not consulted on the agreement, according to local news outlet Erbol.

High ranking police officers have not joined the strike, and cadets from the police academy are currently working to control traffic throughout the city of La Paz. Morales said Sunday that the military has not been called on to patrol the nation’s cities.

Morales yesterday said right-wing forces had infiltrated the police protest, after Interior Minister Carlos Romero claimed government intelligence reveals protesters’ plans to assassinate the minister and set the stage for a coup.

“They use some of our brothers in the police to ready a coup, and to plan to kill the minister of interior, and to clash with the armed forces,” Morales said according to State newswire ABI.

As many as 31 people died in February 2003 when La Paz police joined a strike in the capital in protest of a new income tax introduced by President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. The police returned to work after the army was called in to restore order.

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