Bolivia: Santa Cruz extended the strike to one month from its start
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The leaders of the Bolivian region of Santa Cruzthe economic engine of Bolivia, They resolved on Monday to maintain the strike that has been going on for a month and it did not manage to spread with the same force in other departments. The people of Santa Cruz demand that the census that updates its legislative representation and the amount of state funds it receives be carried out in 2023, based on a number of inhabitants that it considers to be higher than that handled by the latest official statistics.

Meanwhile, the fight for the date of completion of the national census is now in Congresswhere the debate on a law on the subject is blocked by the positions of the ruling party, which seeks to ratify the registration in 2024 as ordered by the Executive, and the opposition that insists that it be in 2023. The Constitution Commission of the Lower House reinstated this Tuesday its session to deal with at least three bills on the census, between mutual accusations by opponents and pro-government supporters of lack of will or technical support in their proposals, respectively.

Crosses by census date

The deputy of the opposition force Comunidad Ciudadana, Carlos Alarconpointed out to the media that in the three projects analyzed “there is consensus in almost all aspects” and that “there would only be a difference in the date”. That party, led by former president Carlos Mesa, and also the opposition Creemos, of the governor of the Santa Cruz region, Luis Fernando Camacho, They propose that the national survey be in October 2023.

Instead, the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) proposes March 23, 2024 as the fixed date for the census. The president of the commission, the official Juan Jose Jauregui, told the press that the vote in the Lower House will not be easy since there are six proposals to analyze. He also warned that “they will not work under pressure from any mobilized sectornor will they make decisions contrary to the Constitution”.

Regarding the debate on the census date, Jáuregui stated that this has already been resolved, alluding to the decree approved a few days ago by President Luis Arce that set March 23, 2024 as the datedespite the demand from Santa Cruz that it be in 2023. The pro-government deputy indicated that if the work in the commission does not advance, it is because there is not a single opposition project, but rather there are several, and he also demanded that those forces present “technical elements to support their claims”.

Continue the strike in Santa Cruz

The census was to be carried out on November 16, but the Arce government postponed it until 2024 arguing technical problems, which caused the rejection of Santa Cruz, who began an indefinite strike on October 22 demanding that the national survey be brought forward. The Santa Cruz leaders are calling for a law that also sets the delivery times for the final data of the consultation until September 2024, so that the new distribution of parliamentary seats and resources can be applied by 2025, the year of national elections.

On Tuesday, the blockades remained in the main streets and avenues of the city of Santa Cruz, after a couple of days of relative calm that allowed the supply of the population and the partial functioning of some economic activities. On many of the roads in Santa Cruz, those who support the strike improvised barricades with cords and wire, while in other places the passage was blocked with logs and branches.

In a statement to the media, the president of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, Romulo Calvo, expressed his discomfort with the attitude of President Luis Arce. “The government has no intention of listening, has no intention of being able to provide a solution to this conflict. He continues to waste our time once again,” Calvo said.

The Minister of Economy, Marcelo Montenegropointed out for his part that the indefinite strike in Santa Cruz already leaves a economic damage greater than 780 million dollars and that one of the hardest hit sectors is agriculture. “The strike that is being carried out in Santa Cruz is an attack on the economic reconstruction process,” Montenegro said when presenting the 2023 budget.

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