Bolivian Workers' Center

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COB
Full name Bolivian Workers' Union
Native name Central Obrera Boliviana
Affiliation WFTU
Key people Pedro Montes, executive secretary
Oscar Salas Moya, general secretary
Office location La Paz, Bolivia
Country Bolivia

The Bolivian Workers' Center (Spanish: Central Obrera Boliviana, COB) is the chief trade union federation in Bolivia. It was founded in 1952 following the national revolution that brought the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement to power. The most important affiliate of the COB was the Union Federation of Bolivian Mine Workers (FSTMB). From 1952 to 1987, the COB was led by the legendary Juan Lechín, who was also head of the FSTMB. In its heyday it was arguably the strongest independent labour movement in the world.[1]

Traditionally a demanding, confrontational organization, the COB has had a difficult relationship with every Bolivian president since the 1950s. More recently, it played a significant role in the series of demonstrations that brought down President Carlos Mesa (2005). The COB currently supports nationalization of Bolivian natural gas reserves and opposed water privatization during the 2000 Cochabamba protests. In 2010 it led a brief national march that led to pension reform and in April 2011, it organized a twelve-day general strike for higher wages.

The COB represents about two million Bolivian workers, bringing together workers from various branches of industry and public services as well as consultation with many peasants' and indigenous leaders, such as Felipe Quispe.

Structure and Leadership[edit]

The COB is led by a National Executive Committee, which is regularly elected in Ordinary Congresses of the organization, which are held every few years.[2] The leading figure is the Executive Secretary, followed by the General Secretary. Other members of the National Executive Committee are also named secretaries, each with a designated area of responsibility. Leadership rank within the National Executive Committee has long been allocated by assessing the sector's power and militancy. Since this Fifth Congress, this has been based on: union density (the percentage of workers in the sector who are unionized); degree of emancipation from private property, through nationalization or cooperatives; and history of combativeness, revolutionary tradition, political consciousness, and solidarity with other sectors. In practice, the Executive Secretary has always been from Bolivia's mining sector.[3]

The current Executive Secretary of the COB is Guido Mitma, a miners' union leader in Huanuni, Oruro, who was elected at the XVI National Congress, held in Tupiza, Oruro, in January 2016.[4] Prior executive secretaries include:

Executive Secretary Affiliation Elected at Held in Term began
Saturnino Mallku[5] Miner XIII Ordinary Congress Sucre March 2002
Pedro Montes.[6][7] Sindicato Mixto de Trabajadores Mineros de Huanuni XIV Ordinary Congress 2006
Juan Carlos Trujillo[8] Sindicato Mixto de Trabajadores Mineros de Huanuni XV Ordinary Congress Tarija January 2012

While the National Executive Committee represents the COB, its powers are subordinate to National Congresses (Ordinary and Extraordinary gatherings of member unions) and to National Ampliados (smaller gatherings of union representatives).

The unions that are part of the COB are affiliated into Federations (typically representing a single sector, such as factory workers or peasants, within one of Bolivia's departments), which are grouped into (usually national) Confederations by sector.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Impasse in Bolivia, Kohl & Farthing, ISBN 184277 759 9, p.149.
  2. ^ a b García Linera, Álvaro; Chávez León, Marxa; Costas Monje, Patricia (2004). Sociología de los movimientos sociales en Bolivia: Estructuras de movilización, repertorios culturales y acción política. La Paz, Bolivia: DIAKONIA, Accion Ecuménica Sueca. p. 50. ISBN 99905-0-623-X. 
  3. ^ García Linera, Álvaro; Chávez León, Marxa; Costas Monje, Patricia (2004). Sociología de los movimientos sociales en Bolivia: Estructuras de movilización, repertorios culturales y acción política. La Paz, Bolivia: DIAKONIA, Accion Ecuménica Sueca. p. 56. ISBN 99905-0-623-X. 
  4. ^ "Eligen a Guido Mitma como nuevo ejecutivo de la COB". Correo del Sur (January 24, 2016 ed.). Retrieved 2016-06-21. 
  5. ^ García Linera, Álvaro; Chávez León, Marxa; Costas Monje, Patricia (2004). Sociología de los movimientos sociales en Bolivia: Estructuras de movilización, repertorios culturales y acción política. La Paz, Bolivia: DIAKONIA, Accion Ecuménica Sueca. p. 86. ISBN 99905-0-623-X. 
  6. ^ "Montes se queda hasta mayo de 2012". Los Tiempos. 2011-07-30. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  7. ^ "COB ratifica que no asistirá a Cumbre de Cochabamba y decide construir su propia propuesta". Los Tiempos. 2011-12-12. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  8. ^ Donoso, Yuvert (2012-01-23). "Trujillo, el nuevo líder de la COB, ofrece diálogo". La Razón. Retrieved 2016-06-21.