Bolivian bishops encourage efforts to overcome social crisis

The inauguration of Luis Arce as president of Bolivia in La Paz, Nov. 8, 2020. The inauguration of Luis Arce as president of Bolivia in La Paz, Nov. 8, 2020. Credit: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0 CL).

At the conclusion of their plenary assembly on Friday, the bishops of Bolivia encouraged everyone's commitment to "join efforts" to overcome the current crisis in the country and to rebuild the social fabric.

The bishops released a statement at the conclusion of their April 26-29 meeting in Cochabamba highlighting the Easter season, in which Christ "challenges us and calls us to show solidarity with the realities of suffering and poverty of so many of our disadvantaged brothers, the outcasts of society.”

Bolivia has experienced political crises since a disputed 2019 presidential election.

Evo Morales, the left wing then-president of Bolivia, fled the country in November 2019 after weeks of protest regarding the disputed election.  

Jeanine Áñez, of a center-right party, then served as interim president, from November 2019 to November 2020. 

Luis Arce, a member of Morales’ party, then won the 2020 presidential election. In March 2021, Áñez was on charges of terrorism, sedition, and conspiracy, with her assumption of the presidency called a coup d’etat.

The bishops asked people to commit to "the effort to overcome this crisis together and rebuild the social fabric, looking for what unites us and overcoming what divides us."

"Only united and with the efforts of all, we can find solutions to the problems that afflict us,” they said.

Pointing to various problems, the bishops lamented the scarcity of sources of stable and decent work, the increase in emigration, the precarious state of the healthcare and educational systems, and the weakened economy.

“We see that the recovery of social peace in the country is becoming more complex as we find ourselves at a point where the absence of a sincere desire for reconciliation and harmony is still perceived, since attitudes of mistrust continue that prevent us from recognizing ourselves as what we are, Bolivians, all children of the one Father,” the prelates noted.

The bishops also pointed to "the clamor for substantial reform" in the administration of justice, that it be "fair and free from all political, economic and other interference."

"This situation, if not corrected promptly, puts peace at serious risk, in addition to sowing pain and suffering in so many innocent people and feelings of helplessness in the citizenry."

The bishops encouraged people "to join efforts to work together for a united Bolivia, drawing on our multiple cultural and historical riches."

They thus called on “the different levels of government to work even harder at their fundamental role of promoting the common good through listening, dialogue and agreements with all sectors" of society in order to "overcome the tensions and problems that we are facing, and to propose practical and equitable solutions for all.”

They also called on businessmen to recognize their important role “in job creation, work that must have the person as its greatest value, the common good and respect for creation; the good that God has provided to be shared among all as brothers.”

To Bolivian families, the prelates expressed “our solidarity and empathy for the difficulties you have experienced and continue to suffer. We encourage you to remain united and under the provident gaze of God, to overcome this situation, rebuilding a climate of peace, serenity, harmony and well-being.”

"In the hope that the health situation will improve, we encourage you, children and young people, to resume your educational activities with enthusiasm and responsibility."

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“With joy and hope, we perceive that little by little we are overcoming those times of sadness and restlessness. Thanks to the Lord who accompanies us personally and as a community, opening us to horizons of light and hope,” they added.

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