Coronavirus in Bolivia: Cause for Concern

We are deeply concerned about our church partners and programs in Bolivia. The Latin Post reports that COVID-19 could increase extreme poverty in Latin America by 22 million people! In a country where roughly 39% of the population lives in poverty, the threat of greater loss in Bolivia is alarming.

The first coronavirus cases in Bolivia were Bolivians who work or live in Italy or Spain and returned home to Bolivia to visit family. Regions like Oruro have not reported new cases in two weeks, and patients are recovering. The regions of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz report the most patients because the residents there are not complying with the quarantine measures.

There were problems on the Chile-Bolivia border since many Bolivians who migrated to Chile decided to return outside the timelines established by the government when prohibitions to enter the country were already in place. Camps had to be built to house more than 400 citizens, and cases of violence between citizens and the police were reported.

Positive Reports
To improve coordination and cooperation between the national government and city authorities, Bolivia’s president changed several authorities in the health system including the minister of health and the departmental directors of health. The goal of the change was to gain a greater respect for health protocols by the authorities and the administrative personnel of the health centers.

Companies and civil society are showing a lot of solidarity. Currently, all donations and aid are being delivered by the police and the army, who are the only institutions with the authorization to go door-to-door in the poorest areas to bring food to those who are not among the groups that will benefit economically with government support.

Bright Hope Partner Churches
Churches are becoming more organized. Most churches have drawn up lists of families who attend their church or benefit from some church welfare program. Responsibilities have been distributed among leaders, and everyone has been assigned people to call on.

In cities like Vallegrande, Riberalta and Sucre, Bright Hope allied churches are processing special permits to be able to use a car that allows them to buy food in large quantities and then distribute it based on previously prepared lists.

Monday, April 6 was designated as a day of prayer to encourage the faith of the pastors and leaders of our allied churches. This included 6 hours of live prayer broadcasted on Facebook Live, where pastors and church leaders were able to present their prayer requests, pray and receive God’s Word specific to this situation. Many of them wrote to thank us and testified that knowing that Bright Hope and its Allies dedicated 24 hours in prayer for them has done a great deal to encourage them.

(Although the designated day to pray for the poor and COVID-19 has passed, you can still download Bright Hope’s prayer guide and pray for the Lord to protect these very vulnerable communities from the pandemic.)

Other resources and updates about Bolivia:

Bright Hope Staff
Bright Hope Staff