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  • Due to the coup regime's neoliberal and self-serving economic policies, 2020 has been the worst year economically for Bolivia in decades, new data suggests.

    Due to the coup regime's neoliberal and self-serving economic policies, 2020 has been the worst year economically for Bolivia in decades, new data suggests. | Photo: Twitter/@siemprees1959

Published 1 January 2021
Opinion

According to the Minister for Productive Development and Plural Economy, Jeanine Añez paralyzed at least eight production plants.

Flagrant mismanagement of the Bolivian economy during the coup dictatorship of Jeanine Añez was catastrophic, according to year end figures. The economy sank to alarming levels under improvised coronavirus measures, as the regime enforced a near-total paralysis of activities as it scrambled to organize a response. 

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According to data from the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade (IBCE), the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 11.11% in the first semester, and the Central Bank of Bolivia (BCB) and the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance predicted that by the end of the year, the economy would contract by 8.4%, which implies losing some 3.5 billion dollars.

Only in 1953 was there a fall of this magnitude, when Bolivia recorded a GDP drop of 9.5%. While the pandemic itself had no bearing on the economy, the measures imposed, supposedly to prevent the spread of the coronavirus such as arbitrary quarantines and curfews, did affect local economies. Merchants and the informal sector, comprising much of the economic activity around the country, were extremely hard-hit.

As in many countries of the region, a large section of the population in Bolivia work in the streets, selling everything from agricultural goods, to prepared foods, clothing and souvenirs. The extensive paralyzation which took place, largely in the dictatorship’s bid to remain in power and avoid going to elections, added to the lack of provisions for out-of-work families, led to hunger across the country.

While stopping the expansion of COVID-19 needed to be a priority, the regime applied restrictions unevenly, to the detriment of campesinos and unions in Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) stronghold areas.

The lack of response capacity and deliberate corruption by the regime in La Paz aggravated the neoliberal crisis, as acknowledged by the Minister of Justice which announced the prosecution of members of Jeanine Añez's executive, involved in these acts of corruption involving the purchase of ventilators and COVID-19 tests.

The regime's slaughter of the economy began in November 2019, when hours after taking office, it began taking actions with aims to dismantle and privatize state companies. According to the Minister for Productive Development and Plural Economy, Néstor Huanca, Añez paralyzed at least eight production plants.

The negative growth rates affected mining, industrial and hydrocarbon sectors among others, some of which are already showing signs of recovery as a result of the return of the MAS government which swept the October 18 election in the first round, receiving 55% of the total votes.

 Among the measures being taken by the government of socialist economist President Luis Arce, who served as Minister of Economy under Evo Morales' administration, is a wealth tax; incentives and benefits for the reactivation of the industrial sector including micro, small, medium and large enterprises; and investment in state industries, while expanding social programs.

 
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