LA PAZ – The Bolivian government signed an accord Saturday with the Medical Association to end a strike in the sector that has gone on for 53 days in protest against a decree, not yet applied, that would lengthen the work day from six to eight hours.
Government Minister Carlos Romero and the president of the Medical Association, Alfonso Barrios, signed the accord that ratifies a previous government decision to suspend the application of the decree that the doctors reject.
But since the mere suspension of the decree does not satisfy the doctors, they plan to bring their case before national and international tribunals.
According to the agreement, their complaint could be presented in court or to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or IACHR, of the Organization of American States, to see if the decree is compatible with international regulations.
The doctors, with the backing of hospital workers and students of the faculties of medicine, demanded that Morales revoke the regulation that sparked the conflict in late March, but that goal was not achieved.
Barrios said that 90 percent of medical associations accepted the agreement and that the remainder, including the one in La Paz, the biggest in the country, respected the majority decision.
The accord also says that the government will annul the lawsuits brought against doctors and students who caused disturbances in recent weeks, and will not dock their salaries for days not worked as long as they make them up during their vacations.
Romero said that the government is satisfied that the strike has ended, a conflict which, in his opinion, has shown the need for a more extensive debate on the state of health care in Bolivia, a topic to be addressed at a meeting in June.