- Title: Virus spreads though Bolivia's political elite casting uncertainty over election
- Date: 15th July 2020
- Summary: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (JULY 13, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE OUT ON STREET WITH FACE MASKS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL, ARACELY QUIROZ, SAYING: "I'm not in agreement with going out and voting because of the pandemic, because it is more dangerous than before, now there are more infections than in the beginning." GENERAL VIEW OF GOVERNMENT BUILDING REGISTERING VOTERS LINE OUTSIDE BUILDING BUSY WAITING AREA OF GOVERNMENT OFFICE TO REGISTER VOTERS VARIOUS OF LOCAL REGISTERING TO VOTE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL, ALEJO CALLE, SAYING: "One has to be very cautious of the COVID-19 virus. I agree with participating in the elections. It's not just our country that is having elections, there has also been elections in different countries in Europe and Latin America. From what I can see, I don't think it (pandemic) but we also need to learn to look after ourselves."
- Embargoed: 29th July 2020 14:32
- Keywords: Bolivia COVID-19 Interim President Jeanine Anez coronavirus election government officials health pandemic positive vote
- Location: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA005CMX6DS7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Bolivia's government has been rocked by the novel coronavirus, with the President and at least seven of her Cabinet ministers testing positive, straining the interim leadership and casting a shadow over a slated election re-run in under two months.
Conservative caretaker President Jeanine Anez, who is also a candidate in the planned Sept. 6 ballot, tested positive for COVID-19 last week, though said she was doing well and would continue to work from isolation.
The ministers for economy, foreign affairs, mining, health, hydrocarbons and the presidency are infected, the most recent confirmed on Tuesday. Others include Senate leader Eva Copa, who has said she was stable, and dozens of junior officials.
"I am afraid to be here, my body trembles because the contagion is circulating everywhere," Sergio Choque, the leader of the Chamber of Deputies, told lawmakers on Tuesday, adding that he had tested negative "thank god".
"I feel sorry for each one of you who are risking your life today and the days before."
The rapid spread through the government has rekindled questions over the coming election, a delayed re-run of a fraught poll last year which sparked widespread protests and led to the resignation of long-term leftist leader Evo Morales.
Anez took power in a political vacuum, pledging to hold quick new elections to help calm deadly clashes that had broken out around the country. She later said she would run herself, sparking criticism after she previously ruled herself out.
Bolivia, a landlocked nation of some 11.5 million people, has seen coronavirus cases spike, overwhelming some hospitals, sparking protests from medical workers and in one case in the city of Cochabamba seeing a body left lying in the street.
"We must postpone the elections," former president and rival candidate Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga said in a video statement, adding a delay was needed to ensure voter participation and avoid contagion.
Confirmed cases have topped 50,000, with the lowland city of Santa Cruz the hardest hit. The death toll stands near 1,900.
Bolivians themselves had mixed views on elections plans.
Alejo Calle, a resident in La Paz, said while people needed to be careful it was important to take part in the elections and that he'd seen other countries move ahead with votes.
"I do not agree with going to vote in the election because of the pandemic," said Aracely Quiroz, also from the highland city. "Now it is more dangerous than before, now there are more infections than at the beginning."
(Production: Santiago Limachi, Monica Machicao, Paul Vieira)
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