The zombification of Bolivian society

Hugo Marcelo Balderrama

In the early 1980s, Wade Davis, a Canadian anthropologist, spent several months investigating alleged cases of the undead in Haiti. His theories about the zombification of people divided the scientific community. But they also gave birth to a whole culture about zombies.

From The Serpent and the Rainbow, one of the first films on the subject, to the modern NETFLIX versions, zombies are shown as a pack whose only mission is to spread the virus, even if they die again in the attempt. They don’t feel pain or anything like that. As the epidemic spreads at great speed, the normal and healthy areas are getting smaller and smaller. Therefore, its inhabitants have to take extreme measures just to survive.

Although this apocalyptic scenario has its origins in science fiction and horror movies, it is not far from becoming reality. But not because of a drug or the black hand of a voodoo sorcerer, but because of a much more dangerous element: poverty. Let’s see.

Last May, an investigation carried out by the Center for Studies for Labor and Agrarian Development (CEDLA) revealed that almost two-thirds of Bolivian citizens suffered a decrease in their income. In addition, 80 percent reported that it is not enough to make ends meet. Consequently, families are forced to resort to bank loans and independent lenders.

For its part, the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) estimated that in 2020 in Bolivia moderate poverty increased from 31.1% to 37.5% and extreme poverty from 12.1% to 14.7%.

In both studies, the pandemic is placed as the key factor in the increase in poverty. However, the quarantine ―despite being a terrible measure that is very typical of liberticidal regimes― was only an aggravating element. Well, the biggest problem in Bolivia is the exhaustion of the disastrous Productive Community Social Economic Model (MESCP), implemented by the Movement Towards Socialism back in 2006.

Things are going so badly that even Evo Morales himself criticized his former economy minister and current president of the country, Luis Arce Catacora. The exact words of the cocalero were:

There is a permanent request, there is a lack of works, there is no economic movement. That demand is permanent. Even two days ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with construction brothers from the Tropics, owners of hotels, I talked with the owners of pumps and they told me how the wages fell. Before, the day was paid, to any worker, 120, 100 bolivianos. Now it is 60, 70. In the Bolivian highlands they complain that it is 30, 40, or a maximum of 50 bolivianos per day. What does that mean? That the economic change is not felt. The economy is improving, but it is not felt in the family or in the countryside or in the city.

Today the entire country is witness, including the MAS militants themselves, of the desperate search for financing to try to keep their model afloat. In fact, at the beginning of this week, CAF approved a $400 million loan to the Bolivian government. Note the paradox of the matter, a regime that presumes to be “sovereign” and “self-sufficient” needs international loans to survive.

But with the growth of poverty come other problems, including insecurity.

According to the Latin American Public Opinion Project 2020 (LAPOP) report, which collects data on citizen security in the Americas, the average perception of insecurity in the region increased from 37.6 on a 100-point scale in 2017 to 43.2 in 2019. The increase was especially high (8%) in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela.

Likewise, the InSight Crime group, in an investigation of the cartels present in Bolivia, shows that poverty and lack of employment lead many young people to seek a life in the world of drug trafficking. Hence, the hired killers have grown by leaps and bounds in cities like Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and La Paz.

In Bolivia, with greater emphasis on the largest cities, there is an accelerated increase in gated communities protected by private guards. The reason is always the same, insecurity. It is as I said at the beginning of this note, our country looks more and more like a zombie war zone, where the few who have resources are cornered into smaller and smaller spaces.

poor country!

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