La Paz, June 15 (efe-epa).- Bolivian musicians, artisans and embroiderers returned to the center of La Paz on Monday to play their instruments, sing and show their textile work to demand that the transitional government restore the Ministry of Cultures, which has been relegated under the education ministry.
Several organizations from La Paz and the neighboring city of El Alto protested while displaying embroidered blankets and skirts, typical skirts of Bolivian “Cholitas,” and posters with slogans such as “I am an artisan, I am not an absurd expense” and “Music is the language of Bolivian culture.”
Some embroiderers used masks with varying details that refer to typical dances of the country and feathered ones with Bolivian flag colors, while shaking rattles, a typical instrument for the Bolivian Morenada folk dance.
The musicians also marched, playing guitars, drums, trumpets and saxophones, trying to keep their distance from each other during the quarantine.
Some musicians stayed in the popular San Francisco square playing the song “Viva Mi Patria Bolivia” (Long Live My Country, Bolivia), with posters displaying slogans such as “The people go forward, Bolivia goes forward.”
Silvia Aguilar, representative of the Association of Popular Art of Embroiderers, told EFE that this sector is affected by the decision of the interim government of Jeanine Áñez to downgrade the Ministry of Cultures, as well as that to suspend social festivities during the quarantine.
“We are running out of work, we need a proposal,” Aguilar said.
She also said they have to pay back loans to the bank and feel “suffocated” by not having work because of such decisions made by the transitional government.
“There is no money. We know that the contagion is serious now, but what can we do?” asked the representative.
Musicians and artists have been protesting since last week, demanding the restoration of the Ministry of Cultures, which has become a vice-ministry dependent on the education ministry, as well as the sports ministry.
Áñez justified this decision in order to allocate more resources to health and to address the COVID-19 epidemic that has killed 611 people in the country out of 18,459 confirmed cases, according to official data.
The quarantine has been eased in parts of Bolivia since last week in an attempt to revive the economy, but remains strict in regions hardest hit by the coronavirus and for activities involving social events from which musicians and artists earn their living. EFE-EPA