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News > Bolivia

Cardboard Coffins Are Used to Bury the Poorest in Bolivia

  • A public official showing a cardboard coffin, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 15, 2020.

    A public official showing a cardboard coffin, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 15, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @grupoeldeber

Published 16 July 2020

The pandemic sweeps Santa Cruz, the richest city known to be the far-right's main bastion.

Given the inability of Bolivia's coup-born government led by Jeanine Añez to control the pandemic, the number of deaths is increasing in Santa Cruz city, where the poorest families are burying their deceased in cardboard coffins.


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Burying or cremating a corpse has become almost a luxury as funeral homes charge up to about US$1,000 in this Andean country, which has been in a severe economic crisis since the coup d'état against Evo Morales performed in Nov. 2019.

Recently, Santa Cruz city's authorities hired a company, which used to make boxes to pack fruit, to manufacture "ecological coffins."

"The help we are providing is for those who really need it," the Santa Cruz Cemeteries director Ronald Romero said and explained that the caskets are cardboard boxes with lids, which can hold a maximum weight of 120 kilos.

Santa Cruz, which is in the most economically affluent Bolivian region and has over 3 million inhabitants, concentrates 26,671 COVID-19 cases, a figure that represents over half of the national total.

As of Thursday morning, Bolivia had reported 52,218 COVID-19 cases and 1,942 deaths, 756 of which occurred in Santa Cruz.

The number of infections continues to increase exponentially and the U.S.-backed interim government has acknowledged that the pandemic's peak will not arrive before September.

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