Friday, February 29, 2008

Dire Straits!

An old lady just told me, with her 200 Bs of her "Renta Dignidad" in her hands: "I will use this to buy some things for my grandchildren" while she marked the calendar for the next month -when she will go to the bank to pick up her next payment- under the timid smiling face of her husband, who was having similar thoughts, though remaining silent while her wife marked also his day in the calendar.

I heard from a school teacher that last year, at her school, all students were attending regularly, and that last year (2007) they had not a single day without normal classes! Can you imagine that?: no teacher's strikes to stop children from going to school. Never heard of it, not since the time I was at school myself and often use to be out of it for reasons I could not comprehend at all.

Just two examples of some of the good current events in the country. The first one talks about the recently approved "Renta Dignidad" (without some cunning efforts of Evo Morales's administration to sign the necessary legal requirements, Law 3791), an allowance for elderly people of Bolivia which became effective in February of this year; a law that, differently than previous regulations (Bonosol for instance), will be granted to all 60 years old citizens. The second one -which marks another cunning move over the board by Morales, involves young students (primary school mainly) who are granted with another allowance, "Bono Juancito Pinto" (Decree 29321 ), which awards all students that have manage to finish their educational fiscal year without skipping days. This bonus encourages the youngsters to remain at school during their required term. It is evident -and there is not discussion about it- that these two measure are not going to solve any social or educational deficiency that is already rampaging this poor country. Nor this measure will improve quality of life of elderly or youngsters at any level, but -and this is something we should grant Morales's office- will start the change of the mentality of Bolivian citizens. Let's see this in a closer way. Students, are not coerced to attend school, but at the same time, if they don't go, they are not allowed to be awarded with this benefit. It may look as some kind of bribery; however, considering the amount of money that is payed to them (200 Bs, or nearly 26.5 dollars a year! -at today's rate) this thought is just nuts! This ridiculous amount of money will not corrupt their minds not those of the families; maybe will not even solve their house problems or debts, social security or nutritional needs (although students are also entitled to have some 'student's breakfast', if they attend school, of course). This allowance will only serve as a inductor material for, firstly, allow the parents to encourage their children to attend to school; secondly, to imprint in the children the need to persevere at school if they want to be awarded with this scholarship -which is its real essence. The real change is going to happen in the psyche of both parents and children and, in the best scenario, will improve educational levels in the long run, if there is cooperation from parents, tutors, teachers, and of course, students.

The other 'bonus', aims to pay some kind of respect to the always forgotten Bolivian elderly people -with a name that includes the word 'dignity' in it. A previous benefit, intended to pay an allowance to all adults older than 65 years (in a country with a life expectancy far from that value, INE). With this measure, Morales not only gained in his favor all the support of those old forgotten citizens that were forced to work or live with all sort of troubles to build a country with no memory for its forebearers; without social security services, no rights for retirement houses or long-term medical treatment. Again, similarly to 'Bono Juancito Pinto', this measure is not going to become a panacea nor the cornerstone of this office. This measure plainly tries to pay some respect, very small, to the old people that built this country undergoing all the despise of previous offices. It would be more illustrative -comparatively talking- if a previous office -say Quiroga, Paz or Banzer- could have had try to tackle this issue before, but the fact is, they didn't do it, and therefore, all the credit falls upon Morales head, as well as the gratitude of thousands of new supporters of the current office plus a slow transformation of those, the non-admirers, who wanted or not are also going to the banks to pick up their bonuses -this include even street beggars of La Paz city, for instance-: an event without precedents!

Now, it is evident that these measures may look as demagogical measures -specially for the opposition which sees demons in all the corners- and it will involve several consequences, economical and social. Prefects and some political leaders have already opposed to these decision as well as try to block them in the parliament with no success -and trying to find all sort of defects saying that to provide food or a whole scholarship is better, a computer or books or many other bright 'ideas'. Are we facing a totalitarian regime? Many opposition parties would like to believe this, but if we also consider the fact that this legitimate office is just practising similar measures played by the now-opposition groups, it would be fair to think that they have their right to do so, specially if Morales' office is at least trying to be loyal to some initial pre-electoral campaigns.

However, if we live in a democracy we should follow democratic rules, non antidemocratic ones, let alone illegal ones. The excuse used by some leaders of the opposition to justify themselves by saying that 'they [MAS and Evo Morales] acted illegally and now we will do the same' (with the approval of a New Constitutional Text and the most recent referenda laws). It is obvious this irrationality must be ruled out. If the opposition wants to set an example the first thing to do is to act according to the laws (assuming that the current office is acting illegally); but this has not happen and does not seem that will happen in the short term.

Unfortunately, recent -and not democratically clean- events in the congress (approval of referendum) are putting more stones to the road of dialogue and democracy in Bolivia; a dialogue that has never been taken seriously by none of the parties, and a respect for democracy that is risking to be destructed by the very self-called their defenders. Gregorio Iriarte speaks eloquently about it, advising that any extreme should be considered as a threat when irrational demands try to satisfy irrational reasons. The point is, are we brave enough to accept these criticisms or are we going to let it pass by and pretend we didn't do it, as always? I believe that the answer to this question should necessary come from the leaders of both of the offenders. We would like to see this starting from the presidency but the opposition would serve to the purpose as well. Are they going to do it?

9 comments:

Yo nomas said...

Lie, Lie, Lie...

come on, stop liying to us...

first, about renta dignidad, is the same as Bono sol, they only change the name, and r u sugesting that with the present that old sweet lady was goint to buy to her grandother, they live better? they gain their dignity back, (when did they loose it) cable to reality, its the same as the bonosol it´s been paid since Gonzalo Sanchez decided.

Could u demostrate with estadistic (any other way is BS and every body knows it) if school abandon has been reduce by bono Juancito pinto, NO, the president said itself, it hasen´t reduce the % of school abandon.

So, unless u think we r idiots or something, plz, stop the lies...

Yo nomas said...

I just realize when was this post made, the very same day our democracy was deadly wounded...

maybe u should tell the world what these genius did.

Again, they used (yasp they USED poor peasent cocaleros, and miners, the ones that march with dynamite in hand just in case some one tries to stop them) 5000 people, they paid them, give them alcohol, coca, and send them to thake the senate. Then the goverment decide to thake the police out off there, so nobody interfiers with they plans.

After this, this people (if u can call them that) surround the senate, let only the MAS people in, and don´t let the oposition get where the people elect them to be, in the senate deffending our rigts. But that not all, in the process of stoping the opposite partie to get there they beat up 2 woman.

This is not the only ilegal thing they did, they aprove a referéndum to decide whether the constitution proyect is aprove or not, oposite to the law that says that from is aprove, until the date of the referendum it must be at least 90 days, they decided that was maybe too much, so they cut it down to 60 days...

their (the goverment) call themselves democrats, but it´s starting to smell like dictadorship...

best regads...

( once again i apollogize for mystakes, it´s been some time since i write in english)

Javier Sandoval A. said...

You´re only talking about the "dark side of the moon".
Anyway...

Anonymous said...

I thought the article was insightful, and the point about the lack of pernicious teacher strikes particularly interesting. I hadn't thought about it but is quite an improvement from previous administrations. It is a refreshing report in the midst of an endless onslaught of Evo bashing in the press and blogosphere.

I think yo nomas, who sounds an avid reader of Bolivia Libre's blog, has an interesting point about renta dignidad just being a revamped Bono Sol. I don't know the details, but would like to learn more about it.

chasqui said...

Has Bolivia stopped changing?

How come there are no more updates?

Economics 101: Giving people money does not make them wealthy or necessarily better off. If these bonos are not part of a larger program, they will simply become inflationary measures and as such, the poor would be better off not getting the bonos in the first place.

Rebelde said...

Well, Chasqui, you know perfectly that these measures will change nothing without more regulations and laws that make them effective and secure their payment for all the offices to come. Will this happen? My answer is I don't know. Could it happen?, my answer is yes, but we need to collaborate as a whole. Our country is getting ideologically divided by radical ideas -from both sides- that threat these changes to be positive.
I believe that opposition and the government ought to work together without irrational demands or complaints. When that simple fact can be a reality then we would be certain that Bolivia is changing facing a positive direction, which is what all of us want, isn't it?

Saludos Rebeldes

Ego Ipse said...

To anonymous:

There are a plenty of substantial differences between Bonosol and Renta Dignidad:

1. Bonosol was paid with “capitalizaci√≥n” resources. Renta Dignidad, instead, is paid fundamentally with resources from former IDH.

2. Bonosol was paid to citizens since they were 65 years old. Renta Dignidad is paid since 60 years. In figures, it means at least 170.000 more beneficiaries.

3. Bonosol was an universal and undifferentiated pension to all citizens. Renta dignidad, instead, is differentiated: pensioned citizens receive Bs. 1800, and non-pensioned citizens receive Bs. 2400, both annually. Therefore, Renta Dignidad has a bigger distributional effect, which is the purpose of social benefits in unequal societies like Bolivian.

When people are interestedly blinded, cannot distinguish black from white, democracy from dictatorship, or Bonosol from Renta Dignidad.

Regards…

august said...

hi!

i wonder how the program for financial aid for families who keeps their children in school functions? is it like the very successfull bolsa familia in brazil?

who started this program? evo morales?

/august, sweden

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