Bolivian President Evo Morales Revokes Controversial Gas Decree

January 3, 2011 8:56 am 0 comments

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Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Bolivian President Evo Morales announced on Sunday the revocation of a decree that had ended gas subsidies, after a week of protests and strikes from transport workers, neighborhood groups and other social organizations.

“I promised to govern by obeying the people,” Morales said, according to Spanish daily El País.

Bolivian diesel and fuel imports — mainly provided by Venezuela and Argentina — have increased steadily since Morales nationalized the sector in 2006, according to The Wall Street Journal. The government subsidizes the products’ high cost, but attempted to relieve itself of the responsibility last week, saying that smuggling made the policy costly and impractical.

The controversial decree drove a wedge between Morales and the unions and social movements that form the base of his constituency.

“I want to say to the Bolivian people that this means that all the measures remain without effect,” Morales said, according to CNN. “There exists no justification now to raise the cost of travel or to increase the price of food … everything returns to the way it was before.”

Bolivian Vice President Álvaro García Linera also said Sunday, however, that the government remains committed to ending the subsidies over the long term. In the future, he said, the government would implement the policy “in dialogue with the people,” Argentine daily Página/12 reported.

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Image: Sebastian Baryli @ Flickr.

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