President Jeanine Áñez of Bolivia, who is currently head of the coup government that ousted former president Evo Morales, reported on Twitter on Thursday that she tested positive for coronavirus. She stated in the video, which was released online, that she got tested after other staff members in the government reported testing positive.
He dado positivo a Covid19, estoy bien, trabajaré desde mi aislamiento. Juntos, vamos a salir adelante. pic.twitter.com/oA4YVYlZFa
— Jeanine Añez Chavez (@JeanineAnez) July 9, 2020
The coup government refused to carry out massive testing when it was still possible to avoid community spread. Furthermore, healthcare workers lacked proper protective equipment to withstand the virus and avoid infection, which has taken a serious toll on Bolivia’s hospitals. Already, two hospitals in La Paz and El Alto have been forced to shut down due to the high infection and death rate of healthcare workers. People are even dying in the streets as they are turned away from hospitals at capacity. Work stoppages and mobilizations against the government have already begun as a result of these horrific conditions.
The coup government has blamed the spread of the virus on people who are “not respecting the quarantine.” However, they neglect to acknowledge that a quarantine of more than 100 days with no assistance from the government is in essence a death sentence for the most impoverished sectors who have no money and no food to eat. People have been forced to leave their homes in search of work.
The coup government entirely evades acknowledging its own responsibility in the crisis and their disastrous response. As a result, the most oppressed sectors such as workers, indigenous people, and young people are facing the brunt of the crisis. Meanwhile, the private health sector continues to profit and carry out lucrative deals as a result of the crisis.
Some union leaders and members of former president Evo Morales’s Movement for Socialism (MAS) party in Bolivia’s parliament indicated they believe that the right-wing sector of the government is using the crisis to justify the indefinite postponement of elections, allowing Áñez and the coup bloc to maintain power.
At first it was stated that the peak of the crisis would occur in early May, which allowed the coup bloc to postpone the elections until August. Then they announced that the peak would be in July and August, and thus managed to postpone the elections to September 6. And now, again, there is pressure for yet another postponement.
The coup government has accused Evo Morales of terrorism in the hopes of keeping him, as well as other public figures within the MAS party, off the ballot in the national elections.
The severe health crisis combined with the economic, political, and social crises that have been ravaging Bolivia make it difficult to predict the outcome of the current political dispute and of the electoral process itself, especially as repression and political persecution run rampant among the current government. It is ever more uncertain as the coup government uses the crisis to their advantage in order to continue to maintain power.
This article was originally published in La Izquierda Diario.