The Government of Bolivia Has Started to Pay a “Bonus against Hunger”

By Juan Manuel Boccacci on December 2, 2020

The government of Bolivia has begun to give “Bonuses against Hunger” to relieve the harmful effects caused by the pandemic and the economic measures of the de facto coup government.  At the beginning of this payment period, President Luis Arce said that this is a palliative measure intended to re-activate the economy.  “We must dismantle all the regulatory apparatus that they have looted in order to allow our economic model to begin to function again, “the economist said.  The bonus, equivalent to (almost 12,000 Argentina pesos) about $145 US dollars, will be given to more than 4 million people of Bolivia.  This was a campaign promise made by the Movement to Socialism (MAS) candidate.

Arce made sure to stress that the country is immersed in an economic crisis and pointed out that the de facto government headed by Jeanine Áñez bears the main responsibility.  “They made up many desperate measures, absolutely disconnected from reality, improvised and without goals,” said the president.  Also he indicated that during the campaign he had traveled throughout the country and confirmed for himself the negative effects of the economic mismanagement.  “We know that our people live from their work, day to day.  When they enclosed us all, many people experienced serious problems, without the possibility of going out to get the means to bring some bread home to their families,” he said.

Later he emphasized that the goal of this measure is to reactivate internal demand.  “We had to take urgent measures, and due to this, we proposed a bonus to attempt to alleviate the negative effect represented by diminution and destruction of internal demand,” stated the former Minister of the Economy of the Evo Morales government.  He also maintained that during the pre-election period he had notified the de facto government about the effects of his economic plan. “A responsible government should take palliative measures.  But unfortunately, they did not listen to us and when they did it was too late.  Families had exhausted their savings and had to resort to other measures that put in jeopardy everything they own,” the president said.

First the Rural Areas

Arce requested that his Minister of Economy, Marcelo Montenegro, make sure that the “Bonus Against Hunger” reaches the rural areas especially.  “This is a sector of the population that the previous government abandoned: the sector of all the men and women of Bolivia who live in rural areas.  Mr. Minister – out there where the banks don’t operate, we must make the effort so that the people there also receive what they deserve from the government.”  He also said that they would send new laws to the Plurinational Legislative Assembly to reconstruct the economic framework that Morales had put in place.  “For our model to function we will have to untangle this both legally and in terms of regulations.  It is the first task we have to complete and then comes our second task – to restore the prior model.  And this is the first measure in that sense.”

The “Bonus against Hunger” is directed to people over 18 and under 60 who have no source of income, among them elders without pensions, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.  The funds come from credits of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.  The Minister of Economy said that the bonus is principally directed toward those who went hungry due to the pandemic.

“We are keeping faith with the people, to recover their dignity and hope,” Montenegro pointed out.  In La Paz there were long lines starting early with people beginning to collect the benefit.  The delivery of this benefit also occurred as the national Executive Branch determined it would lift some of the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic of COVID-19.  One of these changes is to permit open-air activities with limited public attendance.  However, the use of face-masks is still required, as is social distancing.  The daily count of new infections is in the one hundred range.  Bolivia to date has reported 8,963 Coronavirus deaths and 144,810 infected individuals since the appearance of the virus last March.  The worst phase of the pandemic was in July and August, with days on which more than 2,000 new infections and 100 deaths were recorded.

Source: Pagina 12, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau