Latin American Herald Tribune - Morales to Annul Law That Sparked Protests in Bolivia

LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales decided on Sunday to annul the new Penal Code that had sparked protests around the country, with various sectors of society scheduled to stage a demonstration on Monday during his annual state of the union address to Parliament.

"I have decided to abrogate the entire Penal Code," said Morales in an interview with state-run media in La Paz, adding that he made the decision to "avoid having the right use the Code for a political conspiracy."

The president said that he received several calls from political allies, activists and social leaders telling him that he had to overturn the law, although he said he considered its content to be favorable for the various social sectors.

He also said that he made the decision "given the people's lack of socialization" to the new law, acknowledging that neither the Parliament, the "government, (or) the executive branch" had paid proper attention to that fact.

Among the sectors protesting different elements of the Penal Code have been professional workers, civil servants, certain unions, and the Catholic and Protestant Churches, among others.

The new criminal legislation sparked a 47-day strike by doctors, who said that, in part, it would criminalize their professional work.

In recent days, the protests had gained steam and various civil sectors and citizens' groups organized boycotts with the suspension of business activities in at least seven regions around the country.

The protests, besides opposing the Penal Code, were staged in opposition to Morales' eligibility to run for re-election in 2019.