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Bolivia

Yearbook 2007

Bolivia. According to CountryAAH, the conflict between the central government of La Paz and the so-called Crescent Region (the eastern provinces of Tarija, Beni, Santa Cruz and Pando) that had been latent for several years took a serious turn in mid-December when the provinces took a serious threat to an earlier threat and explained its independence. The measure was expected after a year of increasing unrest and polarization in the country and came as a direct response to the new constitution approved by the Constituent Assembly in Oruro on December 9. The new constitution was also rejected by the political opposition as illegal because the opposition's boycott of the constituent assembly's meetings meant that the assembly was not complete. The opposition also claimed that the constitution is entirely politically conditioned and tailored to suit President Evo Morales and the ruling Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS). The protests against President Morales also concerned the controversial Oil and Natural Gas Act and the use of tax revenue from the sale of fossil fuels to fund a pension fund.

2007 Bolivia

However, the new constitution contained both centralizing and decentralizing elements, such as increased state control of the economy and increased regional self-government. In addition, the possibility of direct re-election of a sitting president and presidential election was introduced in two rounds, and Bolivia was defined as a multinational state with several Indian groups as recognized minorities. A potentially hot issue that was not entirely settled in the new constitution was the issue of La Paz and Sucre's status as the country's capital.

Throughout the year, the process leading up to the new constitution was littered with political unrest, general strikes, hunger strikes, street protests and riots. The political battle was concentrated in Cochabamba, where Governor Manfred Reyes opposed President Morales and the local popular opinion. On January 8, for example, unrest as protesters tried to storm the Governor's Palace there. However, the army and police have remained loyal to President Morales, who instead was increasingly pushed from the left wing within his party to further radicalize his policies. An expression of that was the president's declaration on August 2 on accelerated land reform.

The contemporary history of Bolivia

Bolivia's development since 2000 has been particularly marked by the election of populist socialist Evo Morales as president in 2005. The former chaplain of the Chapare region turned the country left and in a nationalist direction, and allied with countries such as Cuba and Venezuela. Morales came to power after a period of strong political turmoil, where grassroots movements in practice deposed two presidents and enabled him to win power.

In November 2019, Morales was deposed in a military coup following charges of electoral fraud. At the time of writing (March 2020), Jeanine Áñez is acting as interim president. Áñez was lifted to power following demonstrations against Evo Morales and the intervention of the military. When Morales and many of his supporters in this situation left their positions of power, Áñez rose from being second vice president in the Senate to senate president and could then be named interim president (interim president) in Bolivia. She announced a new presidential election in March 2020, which was later postponed to May 17, citing the Covid-19 crisis.

Dissatisfaction with neoliberalism

Bolivia became a democracy in 1982. From the second half of the 1980s, the country was characterized by a neoliberal policy, a policy which included, among other things, privatization and deregulation of working life.

The democratically elected left-wing government (1982–1985) marked the end of a period of dictatorship, but left an economy and a leftist in crisis. The market-oriented policy of the subsequent governments put an end to hyperinflation and fulfilled promises of economic growth throughout the 1990s. Yet Bolivia remained one of Latin America's poorest countries, and much of the population paid little attention to the promise of increased prosperity.

Bolivia is a geographically and culturally fragmented country where the state has limited presence in many places. At the same time, the state has been perceived by many as foreign, as a white minority - often with ties to foreign interests - has ruled the country since the days of the colonial era. The United States played an active role during much of the last century and supported dictators such as Hugo Bánzer (1971–1978, later elected president 1997–2001), as well as elected leaders when leading a particular policy. An illustration of the foreign influence may be that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has been pushing for market targeting and opening up economies in the southern countries, had offices in the central bank building in La Paz.

Escalated conflicts

In the first half of the 2000s, dissatisfaction with the policy was widened, and several waves of vigorous protests followed. Two dramatic conflicts were the "water war" in 2000 and the "gas war" in 2003. The backdrop in both cases was different views on who should control the country's natural resources.

The "water war" started after President Bánzer signed a contract with the multinational company Bechtel, supported by the World Bank, on privatization of the water supply to the country's third largest city, Cochabamba. In the aftermath of this, prices for water supply for the population increased, and the fierce protests that followed contributed to a near collapse in the national economy. The authorities finally chose to cancel the contract with Bechtel.

The "gas war" occurred during President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. As president in both the 1990s and 2000s, he cut public spending and privatization. He was met with a wave of mass demonstrations, the triggering cause being rumors that the government would export natural gas to the international market via Chile, a country Bolivia has had a particularly tense relationship with since the Pacific War (1879-1883), which ended in Bolivia lost its coastline to the Pacific Ocean. Unrest and roadblocks prevented the transport of goods and people in and out of La Paz. At least 63 people were killed when the army was deployed in October 2003.

Sánchez de Lozada was forced to resign, the National Assembly appointed Carlos Mesa as his successor. Mesa had a background as a historian and journalist. His transitional government profiled itself as more independent of the traditional political class, but failed to put an end to the uprising. A referendum gave green light to gas exports, combined with stricter taxation by the foreign companies and a strengthened position for the state oil company. But the protests soon flared up again, and Mesa gave up in the spring of 2005 under a siege of the presidential palace.

 

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