Dozens of Bolivians on Thursday (16.07.2020) challenged a ban on mass gatherings to demand that they be allowed to take money out of their private savings in pension funds to address the economic crisis caused by prolonged quarantine.
In a march in the city of Santa Cruz (east), those who said demanded «that the cessation of their labor sources by quarantine (…) access to partial return of their contributions administered by the AFP (Pension Fund Administrators),» Benito Justiniano, one of the leaders of the protest, told the local press.
The march toured the Plaza de Armas de Santa Cruz as its participants chanted choruses and raised banners that said «this is not political» and «hunger does not forgive.» The people who demonstrated covered their faces with masks, mandatory to use in public spaces.
The AFP debate
Since last May, two initiatives have been in the Bolivian Congress for the partial and early repayment of these funds. One of them proposes the return of 50 per cent of the contributions managed by the two private managers operating in the country, and the other proposes a return based on ages and percentages.
The projects are still under consideration by an economic commission of the Chamber of Deputies. The protest leaders therefore warned that if their request is ignored by the authorities they could begin to cut off routes or call for a protest march towards La Paz, seat of the Executive and Legislative powers.
The two AFPs manage the contributions of some two million people employed in Bolivia. In neighboring Peru, Congress authorized the withdrawal of up to 25 percent of the pension funds to deal with the emergency in late April. Meanwhile, in Chile, the Chamber of Deputies approved the withdrawal of 10% of these capitals.