LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales announced on Monday he will take every possible legal action to restore the healthcare services that were suspended 45 days ago by a strike by doctors demanding the elimination of an article of criminal law and that they not be sanctioned for the days of their walkout.
In an “emergency” message issued at Government Palace in La Paz, Morales said he had decided “to take all constitutional and legal steps to restore healthcare services to our people,” though without specifying exactly what those steps would be.
The president confirmed that Parliament would revoke before Tuesday at least two articles of the new Criminal Justice Code in compliance with accords signed with the medical sector on at least eight occasions.
The head of state formally requested last week that the Bolivian legislature, controlled by his own party, revoke Articles 205 and 137, which doctors and truckdrivers are both protesting against, respectively, on grounds that they criminalize their professional activities with sentences that include prison.
Doctors consider that response insufficient, since they also asked that the final agreement eliminate any prosecution of their representatives and that the government not apply sanctions on doctors for going on strike.
Morales said Monday after a month and a half on strike that “there are other interests guiding” the doctors’ leaders, whom he accused of being led by “sectors of the opposition” in order to carry out “an antidemocratic political conspiracy.”
The president regretted that for 45 days “the poorest people have been kept from being cured of their illnesses,” while private doctors’ offices and clinics have increased their number of patients.
“We don’t wish to believe this is an attempt to privatize healthcare,” the Bolivian president said.
Set for this Monday is a legislative session to apply the changes to the Criminal Justice Code requested by Morales, while the protesting medical sector has called for another demonstration.