In July the Bolivian Government lowered the legal working age to 10. The Bolivian vice president said the new law aimed to find a balance between “the reality and the law”. Children 10 and over can now legally work if they are also attending school and are self-employed.
By Gabriela Sanchez, Socialist Party
Children being forced to work is a common sight in Bolivia. Over 500,000 children work selling goods and food on the street. Many of them wear balaclavas to hide their faces and therefore not shame their families who often rely on the money the children make.
The reality of this situation unfortunately represents just one of the contradictions in the government of Evo Morales. Morales was elected in 2006 and will stand again in the coming elections. In the absence of genuinely socialist alternative he is likely to be re-elected.
While his government has implemented some progressive reforms, and given many of Bolivia’s indigenous people a sense of identity for the first time, he has not gone far enough. Around 25% of the population still live in extreme poverty.
Despite identifying as ‘socialist’ the sad capitulation to legalise child labour rather than fight against it shows that capitalism is still alive and well in Bolivia.