The Government of Luis Arce, the dolphin of former President Evo Morales who won the elections in October last year, announced on Wednesday the return of a loan of 327 million dollars that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had granted to his predecessor, Jeanine Áñez. To the initial amount of the loan granted to the Government of Áñez, which assumed power after the overthrow of Morales in November 2019, the Bolivian State must add more than 24 million dollars in interest and commissions.
The president of the Central Bank of Bolivia, Edwin Rojas, affirmed that the Government was acting “in defense of its national sovereignty,” since the IMF’s support was conditioned by certain economic policies, and the Bolivian Constitution, promulgated in 2009 by Morales, prohibits admitting economic goals and disciplines imposed by foreign institutions. Accepting the loan a little less than a year ago went against this mandate.
The justification for canceling the loan has been questioned by officials of the past government. According to them, the credit was not part of any agreement with the organization, but was a “temporary support” to improve the liquidity of the Bolivian State during the covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, they argue, the loan was not subject to any particular condition.
The Bolivian opposition criticized that the Government will stop using money that could be useful to combat the economic and health crisis that the country is experiencing due to “a false idea of sovereignty.” Bolivia is emerging from a second wave of infections that has the country in suspense since December of last year. Until this Wednesday, 238,495 infections and 11,303 deaths have been registered in a population of 11 million inhabitants.
This Wednesday, the ruling party approved a health law that has caused great rejection of doctors and health workers. They argue that the law allows the Ministry of Health to hire personnel who have not been accredited by the academic institutions they control, and there is fear that Bolivia will once again seek the services of Cuban doctors who were expelled by the Áñez Government. Bolivian doctors have systematically refused to allow professionals of other nationality to work in the country, even in positions that most of them did not wish to occupy, such as in rural areas. The Arce government has denied that it will once again bring Cuban personnel to the country.
Another point of the law that is resisted by the unions is the governmental control of the prices of health services. The rule also requires that any covid vaccination be free, which eliminates the possibility for private laboratories to market the vaccines. This is criticized by sectors of the opposition, who demand “market freedom”. His argument is that private vaccination could alleviate the obligations of the State, which is far behind in the acquisition and distribution of vaccines. So far only about 10,000 Bolivians have been vaccinated, all of them doctors and nurses. The first massive campaign will take place in March.
Former President Áñez presented the contracting of the IMF loan as an achievement of her administration against the pandemic, but could not use the money because the then Parliament, controlled by the Movement for Socialism, the party of Arce and Evo Morales, refused to approve the decisions of your Government. With this return, the principle of this political tent of making the country independent from the international organization was established, which it blames for the job reduction programs and privatization of state-owned companies that were applied in the eighties and nineties.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.