Bolivia. The large trade union organization COB
(Confederación Obrera Boliviana) announced "war" against the
government for increased average salaries. The government
promised wage increases later in the year but at a much
lower inflation-related level than COB's requirements, which
were dismissed as unrealistic.
Countryaah, The Bolivia government was reformed during the year. One
of President Hugo Banzer's alliance parties, the populist
Condepa (Conciencia de Patria), weakened when founder Carlos
Palenques passed away in March 1997. Since then, the party
has been divided by internal quarrels and accusations of
nepotism, and its two members of government resigned during
the year. President Banzer took the opportunity to
strengthen his party's position (Acción Democrática
Nacionalista), but at the same time gave the finance
ministerial post to the third party in the alliance, MIR
(Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria). The alliance
lost the majority position in the House of Representatives,
but in general the government succeeded in its policy. Some
constitutional reforms were implemented, the external debt
decreased and the growth figure for the year was about 5%.
Only small progress was noted in the fight against coca
cultivation. The goal of eradicating it by 2002 seems
difficult to achieve - an ordinary farmer earns, for
example. only a third as much as a cocoa grower. In early
September, therefore, 1,000 coca farmers conducted a protest
march to La Paz.
The arrest of Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet in
London in November caused the opposition to demand an
investigation into Banzer's involvement in the so-called
Operation Condor (see Chile).
New constitution and politics
From January 2006, Evo Morales and his party ruled MAS
Bolivia through some of the biggest political changes since
the 1952 revolution. His time in power was characterized by
relatively stable conditions and increased growth, taking
into account the country's turbulent history.
The former chapar farmer from the Chapare region came to
power helped by the protest movements. He turned the country
to the left and in the resource-nationalist direction, and
allied with countries such as Cuba and Venezuela.
One of the most important changes was the new
constitution of 2009. A constitutional assembly was elected
by the people as early as 2006, but the process was
protracted and was characterized by conflicts. The final
constitution that was put to the referendum recognizes the
country's many indigenous peoples, a recognition critics
still believe is more symbolic than real. It allows for
different types of property, including state and
communitarian (that is, collective ownership under the
auspices of local communities, in the traditional way). It
also gives nature status as a legal subject.
Several of the conflicts were related to the issue of
regional autonomy. The areas in the so-called "crescent"
consisting of the provinces of Tarija, Beni, Santa Crúz and
Pando demanded a great deal of autonomy and control over
their own resources, including gas reserves in Tarija. In
eastern Santa Crúz, a demand was released for the rest of
Bolivia. In addition to fighting for resources, some of the
people in the aforementioned provinces identify with
Bolivians living in the Highlands to a small extent. When it
emerged that the USAID (United States Agency for
International Development) had supported the separatist
movement in the east, Evo Morales expelled US Ambassador
Philip Goldberg from the country.
The role of the state
One of Morales' first acts as president was to conduct a
" nationalization " in which state control of the country's
rich gas resources was strengthened and foreign companies
imposed higher taxes without expropriating their fields.
The government promised that Bolivia was on its way to
socialism and strengthened the state's position in other
sectors. Gradually, the state has increased control of
natural resources such as tin, sectors such as
telecommunications, electricity and transport (including an
airline), and some production companies.
In other cases, the promise of change. Bolivia's salt
desert Uyuni has large deposits of lithium, a resource used
for batteries in electric cars, among other things. But the
promises to build an industry around this commodity have
yielded few tangible results. Another strategic sector,
mining, is still in the hands of private cooperatives that
are to a small extent subject to state regulations. They
have often been in conflict with the Morales government and
in 2016 kidnapped, tortured and killed militant miners
Deputy Prime Minister Rodolfo Illanes (1958–2016).
Evo Morales succeeded in reducing poverty and modernizing
the country. With increased revenues from the gas sector,
the state expanded school, health care and housing. The
country became a "minimum welfare state". The economy also
went very well.
Since 2011, demand for raw materials has declined, partly
as a result of slower growth in China, and many Latin
American countries have been severely affected by this.
Bolivia had, after this, shifted one of the highest growth
rates in the region, and the largest decline in the
proportion of the population starving or malnourished. This
is attributed to growth, but also to new welfare schemes,
which include cash payments to families against sending
children to school, to pregnant women against regular health
checks, and universal minimum pension to the elderly. But
despite these advances, Bolivia is still the country in
Latin America with the highest proportion of people