LA PAZ – President Evo Morales’s government and representatives of thousands of low-ranking police signed an accord Wednesday to end seven days of sometimes violent protests by cops dissatisfied with their pay.
The ministers of interior, Carlos Romero, and development, Teresa Morales, and three police delegates put their names to the document after long hours of negotiations.
Under the terms of the pact, the lowest-paid police officer will receive the equivalent of $295 a month in total compensation.
While that represents an increase of 20 percent, the largest in 14 years, it still falls short of the police’s “legitimate expectations,” Romero said.
The striking police had sought pay parity with their counterparts in the military, but that would have required an increase of 100 percent.
Bolivia, one of the poorest nations in Latin America, has a statutory minimum salary of $144 a month, and median pay in 2011 was around $546 monthly.
The agreement also shields leaders of the mutiny from reprisals, establishes an internal ombud’s office within the National Police, allows officers to retire at 100 percent of salary and reforms a disciplinary process that cops claimed was tilted against them.
“One can’t get everything one wants, but we have reached an accord with the government to increase the basic salary,” said police Sgt. Esther Corzon, one of the delegates who signed the settlement on behalf of her comrades.
The police mutiny was marked by a number of violent incidents, including the sacking of a La Paz building housing the National Police intelligence unit and disciplinary tribunal.
Armed mutineers also mounted daily protests outside the presidential palace.
The government managed to resolve the dispute with police just as hundreds of Indians arrived in La Paz on a march to protest Morales’ ambitions to build a highway across a nature preserve. EFE