Just Another May Day in Bolivia

By Ali Sargent

Since Evo Morales became President of Bolivia, it has been his tradition to announce pretty important policy changes and to give a speech in support of workers, on – you would never have guessed it – Workers' Day!

This year's march in La Paz was headed by the main Bolivian workers organisation, the COB [Central Obrera Boliviana]. Being a workers' union, these guys love striking and marching so they do it quite often. Apparently, before Morales came to power, the miners would occasionally march to the main city square with dynamite strapped to their bodies, threatening to blow up the presidential palace. They're my favourite kind of protester – it's great to see a cackling miner throwing his dynamite and all the police scattering away, clutching their handbags. On pure miners marches everyone usually gets wasted, too.

No one threatened to kill themselves with dynamite, but the march was relatively routine: Morales increased the minimum wage, a teachers' union accused him of demagoguery and he "reclaimed" a Spanish electricity company (the second Spanish energy company to be reclaimed by Latin Americans in the past few weeks).

In the aftermath, factory workers began discussing an indefinite strike next week. The doctors have been on strike since I arrived last month, which in its turn, prompted the sex workers to go on hunger strike in an attempt to stop them. Now patients have left their beds and taken the streets in protests of the doctors' strike too.

So yeah, life makes sense in Bolivia.

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