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Don’t Stop The Music: Bar Owners And Musicians in Bolivia Demand The Right To Work

Artists and evening business operators unite in protest after nearly seven months of quarantine

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Autumn Spredemann
Autumn Spredemann
I´ve traveled the world working as a freelance journalist, blogger, and English teacher. I specialize in remote travel, obscure cultures, and politics.

BOLIVIA. Sucre. As the country enters its final phase of reopening after months of strict lockdown and quarantine measures, one economic sector is still fighting for their right to work. Restrictions on hours of operation are still in effect for all businesses in the nation, which vary from department to department. However, all businesses not associated with healthcare are required to close no later than 9 p.m.  

These measures are the final coffin nail for industries that operate at night, like bar owners, DJs, musicians, and special events coordinators.

Restrictions for some but not others

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The country´s COVID-19 caseload continues to decline for the sixth week in a row, with only 37,713 reported active cases. While the administration of president Jeanine Añez has put the burden of reopening the country´s nine departments on the shoulders of individual governors, the majority remain reluctant to allow businesses to operate at night.

Though limiting hours of operation as a measure to curb the virus isn´t a new tactic, it fails to find a footing in logic. Especially when the nation is already allowing restaurants and stores to remain open until 9 p.m. Bar owners and musicians argue that there´s no increased risk of the virus spreading if they are allowed to operate with appropriate sanitary protocols like restricted operating capacity, temperature checks, and face masks.

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Many have already accused the governor of Chuquisaca and the mayor of Sucre of becoming corrupted with the amount of power awarded to them during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Some have called it a pointless bid to maintain a grip on the last remaining thread of their emergency powers.

Protesters in front of Liberty House in Sucre. Photo credit: Autumn Spredemann

Artists are becoming desperate 

The assembly of musicians and establishment owners in 25 de Mayo square today was not the first demonstration seen in the city or country by those working in flexible demand industries. Tourist operators, guides, and artists of every genre have been among the worst affected by the economic fallout.

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Read also: Democratic Election In Bolivia Canceled For The Second Time This Year

Despite parliament approving a second stimulus bonus for Bolivian citizens back in August, president Jeanine Añez claims there isn´t enough money to give the people any financial support at this time. As economic sectors continue to reopen, the musicians and business owners protesting in Sucre hope to be granted the same working rights as other non-essential industries.

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