In the face of escalating unrest, the Bolivian government reopened negotiations just before midnight yesterday with the thousands of police officers that have been striking in the country for over five days.
As of this morning, no solution has been reached.
On-going negotiations are focused on the protesting police officers’ central demand, an increase in monthly salary from 1,200 bolivianos (US$171) to 2,000 bolivianos (US$285).
The police officers on strike represent the lower levels of the Bolivian police force. This increase would make their salary equivalent to military officials of similar rank.
On Sunday, former representative of the protestors Edgar Ramos signed an agreement with Minister of the Interior Carlos Romero that would have seen a monthly salary increase of 220 bolivianos (US$31).
Yesterday, Police Director Victor Santos Maldonado called for protestors to accept this agreement and terminate strikes. The protestors, however, claimed that the agreement was made without consultation and selected new representation.
At last night’s negotiations, Esther Corzón appeared as leader of the protestors.
Sergeant Corzón stated, “We are ready for dialogue, we do not want confrontation,” as quoted by El Día.
The Ombudsman’s office has offered to mediate the negotiations.
Yesterday, over a thousand police officers and their wives marched in the streets of La Paz.
The protest escalated turning violent when police officers clashed with government supporters in the Plaza Murillo in La Paz. The police officers ultimately took control of the plaza.
Striking police officers have also burned documents and computers at the central intelligence agency and taken over buildings. The BBC reports that the on-going insecurity has forced some banks and businesses to remain closed.
The police officers are also calling for the creation of a Police Ombudsman, a pension raise to be equivalent to their salary, and for the removal of the law presently regulating the discipline of the Bolivian police.
Finally, they are requesting that police participants in the protests not be punished.
This list of demands was reduced yesterday with the change in protest representation. Earlier in the protests, demands also included improvements in infrastructure, uniforms, arms and life insurance.
Both President Morales and his vice president Álvaro García Linera have accused opposition of manipulating the protesting police officers in order to prompt a coup.
Nevertheless, the police, opposition, and UN officials have denied these claims.