Bolivia's President Morales revokes relatives' perks


Bolivia's President Evo Morales on Wednesday revoked juicy perks, including premium plane travel, that his administration had granted his relatives and those of the vice president, amid a national outcry over the freebies.

The cushy treatment, including diplomatic passports and generous travel allowances, was to have been given to family members traveling with the president or vice president on official trips.

The presidential and vice-presidential family members would have received per diems that were more than twice the minimum monthly wage in this impoverished country.

"I have asked the cabinet... to abrogate this supreme decree," Morales said in a statement.

He also asked for the "understanding" of anyone who had been offended by the granting of the travel allowances and other perks, and urged the public to refrain from "threatening, intimidating or insulting" his relatives on the street.

The government approved the perquisites on March 13, but the decree was first revealed in the Bolivian press only last week.

Opposition lawmaker Adrian Oliva was among the fiercest critics who accused Morales -- a populist and an Aymara Indian who took power in 2006 as Bolivia's first indigenous leader -- of having "forgetting his roots" as member of this nation's oppressed underclass.

Bolivia is South America's poorest country, with a minimum monthly wage of $143, while the daily per diem for the president and vice-president's family members would have been between $283 and $339.