Bolivia’s Dictatorship Negotiates with Hospitals and Private Cemeteries in the Face of a Pandemic

July 14, 2020

The Bolivian dictatorship will begin to negotiate the intervention of private hospitals and cemeteries in view of the risk of the collapse of public health services and mortuaries due to the magnitude of the pandemic, the Minister of the Interior of the regime, Arturo Murillo. Announced  “We are going to start two processes today, one of expropriation or intervention of the Udabol hospital in Santa Cruz (east), which has a capacity of 400 beds and around 100 intensive care units, and in Cochabamba (center) Univalle, which has a capacity of more than 120 beds and around 20 in intensive care units, said Murillo in a press conference.

Both hospitals belong to private universities.

The minister specified that the intervention in private hospitals and cemeteries will be negotiated with the payment of compensation. “It’s not about taking anything from anyone. If it is expropriated it will be at a fair price,” he said.

Furthermore, he anticipated that “in case we collapse, we will intervene in private cemeteries”, and mentioned the critical situation in the necropolis of Cochabamba, a city strongly affected by the pandemic.

“In a week we foresee the general cemetery in Cochabamba filled,” he said during the meeting with the press held in that city.

Murillo explained that the decision was taken in conjunction with de Facto President Jeanine Áñez, who has been in quarantine since last week with an asymptomatic diagnosis of Covid-19.

With 11 million inhabitants, Bolivia has more than 48,000 people infected with 1,807 deaths due to the pandemic.

Since the appearance of the virus in Bolivia in March, the central, regional and municipal governments have mutually authorized specific public hospitals to care exclusively for Covid-19 patients, but these have begun to collapse due to the escalation of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 hospitals receive patients from all walks of life, including those affiliated with private insurance, which according to the minister is leaving “the humblest, poorest people who cannot afford insurance” without care.

According to official estimates, Bolivia could have some 130,000 infected people by September, when elections are scheduled for the renewal of the president and vice president and the bicameral parliament.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau