The nonsense of the spokesman

Almost 1.4 billion dollars in remittances!

The Central Bank of Bolivia (BCB) has just reported that remittances from abroad to Bolivia last year were around 1,399 million dollars, 25% more than in 2020 when, due to the pandemic, they registered their lowest level ($1,116 million) since 2011. The gradual return to normality and the economic recovery in the countries where our relatives, friends and acquaintances live, meant that in 2021 there was the highest income in history from remittances from Bolivian workers abroad. .

We must remember that the remittances that our compatriots make to their families are an important source of foreign exchange -in fact, since it is an export of services (provision abroad)- remittances become the fourth largest contribution to the country after the export of minerals, soybeans and derivatives, and natural gas, far surpassing receptive tourism.

Therefore, it is not a minor issue given the importance of such income to prop up the BCB’s Net International Reserves (NIR) and, with it, the stability of the exchange rate and -why not say it- the economy from the country.

After growing, remittances to Bolivia in 2020 fell 15% compared to 2019, with a drop of 202 million dollars due to the covid-19 pandemic, from 1,318 million dollars to 1,116 million. Bolivia was the most affected country in Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Peru and Paraguay (-12%) and Costa Rica (-5%), due to the loss of jobs or the decrease in income that occurred given the negative impact on the world economy and trade, due to the generalized lockdown.

According to the BCB report, the main country of origin of remittances in 2021 was Spain (34%) from which 478 million dollars were received, followed by Chile with 292 million (20.9%); USA with 288 million (20.6%); Argentina, with 69 million, and Brazil with 63 million; so, if the reactivation in those countries goes well, also ours there…

Remittances from our compatriots made a real jump, from US$304 million in 2005 to US$569 million in 2006 and then to US$1,020 million in 2007; from then on -except in 2009, when they totaled 939 million- they always exceeded 1,000 million dollars/year. In such a way that between 2006 and 2021, Bolivia received a whopping 18,077 million dollars, a by no means insignificant sum, not only because of the above, but also because of the use given to those resources.

Indeed, the destination of these extraordinary incomes has to do, mainly, with covering the pressing needs of those who saw their parents, siblings or children leave; the dollars and euros that arrive are used for their food, education, health, rent and other emergencies; in the same way, to pay debts for the construction of a house or the purchase of a lot.

Remittances from abroad support family members who have had to emigrate in order to provide their services, which -it must be said with all its letters- in most cases have to do with basic tasks such as domestic service, cleaning, harvesting in the farm work, factory work, masonry, caring for the sick or the elderly, etc., tasks that, given the urgent need to generate resources, are even carried out by Bolivian professionals, in such a way that, in most cases, it is underemployment, yes, much better paid than in our Bolivia.

Remittances imply a large contribution of money that strengthens domestic demand, yes, although there are those who maintain that a large part of these resources goes to the purchase of imported and contraband articles, and not to national production.

In any case, beyond the dance of dollars and euros, we must not forget that the painful part of this generous contribution is that our compatriots had to go abroad due to the lack of employment opportunities, at the cost of family separation, which… How many times does it provoke real human dramas!

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