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Bolivia's Morales calls on troops to end strike

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-26

Bolivian President Evo Morales has urged striking members of the armed forces to return to their barracks, calling the action "a betrayal of the homeland".

"A military without discipline ceases to be a military," Morales declared at an event marking the anniversary of an army military college. "The people need you," he pleaded to the soldiers and low-ranking officers who have been striking for several days.

"The people place their trust in the sergeants. Officers and commanders, your president has placed his faith in you," he declared.

The striking non-commissioned officers, most of whom, like Morales, are of native origin, are protesting the lack of opportunities for advancement in the military, complaining that most of those promoted are white or of mixed-Indian and white heritage.

Bolivia sacked some 700 members of the military for “sedition” on Thursday, in response to the strike.

But the mass dismissal appeared only to further galvanise the disgruntled soldiers, who vowed to keep up pressure on the military and the government.

“This is an assault on us, and they don’t know what they are expecting,” an air force soldier told daily newspaper Pagina Siete under condition of anonymity. "Do they want an open confrontation between officers and subordinates? All we have done is draw attention to our plight. We have not rebelled.”

The association representing non-commissioned soldiers said the army was not respecting a new constitution promulgated by President Evo Morales, himself an Aymara Indian, which guarantees racial and gender equality.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-04-25

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