Protests continued in Suriname for a second day. (CMC)
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PARAMARIBO – Thousands of people took to the streets here on Friday calling on the Suriname government to revoke the recent increase in fuel prices.
For the second consecutive day, the protestors gathered at Independence Square opposite the Presidential Palace denouncing recent measures taken by the Desi Bouterse government including price hikes for fuel, water and electricity.
Last week, the price of gasoline increased by US$0.08 cents per litre, while diesel increased by US$0.03 cents per litre.
At least 10 000 people participated in the protest on the two days organised by the trade unions following a similar event by the 30-year old Maisha Neus on Monday.
Observers described the protest as the largest protest action against the Bouterse government with students, workers and even staff of different hospitals and opposition parties in National Assembly participating.
While the protestors called on Bouterse to resign, the trade union leaders said that this was not their goal with RAVAKSUR leader Robby Berenstein indicating that the objective is not to overthrow the government, but rather to press the administration to change its policies.
The union leaders claim that the policies have brought untold hardship on the population and vowed that the demonstrations would continue until the “disastrous” measures have been revoked.
Suriname has had to enter into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country experienced a drastic decline in revenue as a result of the situation on the international market where the prices of the country’s most important commodities gold and oil dropped significantly.
According to the government the country’s income since 2015 fell by 70 per cent in comparison to 2014. As a result also the foreign currency reserves were nearly depleted which led to a devaluation of the Surinamese dollar in November 2015 by 20 per cent.
“The government should not underestimate the signal we have sent,” said Berenstein.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education announced that the principle of no work, no pay will be applied to teachers who participate in the demonstrations.
Education Minister Robert Peneux, said that teachers received a salary increase of SUR$500 (US$ 65), this month and have no reason to protest.
But President of the Association of Teachers, Wilgo Valies, described the measure as an attempt to intimidate teachers whom he said would not be not be deterred or intimidated.
“We will fight to the bitter end for a better life, better wages and better positions,” said Valies. (CMC)