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Bolivia's New Leader Cuts His Pay to Hire Teachers

January 28, 2006|From Associated Press

LA PAZ, Bolivia — New Bolivian President Evo Morales has cut his salary by more than half and declared that no Cabinet minister can earn more than him, with the savings to be used to hire more teachers.

The move followed a campaign pledge to tackle political corruption and restore honesty to the government of South America's poorest country. Critics called it a propaganda ploy that will do little to help the needy.

In announcing the move Thursday, Morales said, "We need 6,000 new teachers and there is only money for 2,200."

Morales' salary drops to less than $1,875 per month from his predecessor's $4,362. The yearly savings of more than $31,340 on the president's income -- including expenses and Christmas bonuses -- is about enough in Bolivia to rent an upper-middle- class apartment, buy a new Ford Focus or pay the annual salaries of 10 veteran teachers.

Waiter Jose Maria Oropeza applauded the cuts. "It's a good sign that he's putting his salary on the line so that the country can begin improving," he said Friday.

Critics said the salary cuts would not begin to address Bolivia's deep-seated poverty.

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