Breaking Away Bolivia

Santa Cruz has 1.5 million people, the largest city in Bolivia.  It also has the most money in Bolivia, 30% of the country’s GDP. Where does that money come from? -Natural resources;natural gas.

When Evo was elected president, he had promised to do something about the plundering and exploitation of natural resources by international corportations, which had long taken the resources and made little to no investment in Bolivia to improve quality of life.  His strategy has been to push for the nationalization of these resources, which – although popular amongst many social movements – has triggered a very strong and angry reaction from the upper class and business leaders who did manage to benefit in the old system.

Now Santa Cruz has held a referendum, and whether it is legitimate or not, the results show strong signs that the province wants full autonomy.  This means the wealth it produces will be kept from the central government, kept from the rest of Bolivia to help pay for the running of the country.

It is a typical conflict of the last 50 years, whether you’re in Bolivia, Central Africa, or right here on the continent of Europe.  The have’s want nothing to do with the have not’s, and they will go to great lengths to keep from losing anything to them.

Among the historical comparisons that come to mind, I think of the province of Katanga in Congo, which broke away from Congo at a most critical moment in the nation’s founding.  Shored up by Belgian mining companies and the Belgian military, the government of the province would later get custody of legendary political leader and prime minister Patrice Lumumba, who they would torture, murder, and then see to it that each piece of his body would be chopped up and disolved in sulfuric acid, to ensure that no one could ever identify his body.

No comparison, different situation, certainly.  But it reminds me of how far these kinds struggles for control of wealth can and do go.


  1. May 7, 2008

    I agree with your description of the situation in Bolivia with one addition–the obvious part the USA government plays in divisive attempts to “Balkanize” Bolivia.
    The US ambassador to Bolivia was previously posted to Yugoslavia, and no doubt due to his ‘success’ in destroying Yugoslavia, he was appointed to do the same in Bolivia.
    Not mentioning the US role in this sedition allows it to continue undiscussed and unchecked, a role the US government has played throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean since the early 1900s, both overtly through military dominance, or covertly through the CIA, State Department and the many supposedly free from US government controlled NGOs.
    If freedom is the goal, US overt and covert operations must be stopped, not only in the Americas, but around the world, and despite serious doubts to the contrary that either the Dems or Reps will stop this ongoing travesty, of the current US presidential candidates, only Barack Obama offers that hope.
    Bolivia for ALL Bolivians–viva a united Bolivia!

  2. DROCK
    May 8, 2008

    Never ceases to amaze me how if people in country x vote against the perceived proper political left course of action the US MUST be covertly involved and pulling all the strings.

    From what I understand the racisms is fierce in Bolivia (Spanish decent/ indigenous) and a huge motivator for the autonomy vote.

    While I was a hopeful of Morals initially he fell in the death trap of mid-20th century Cuban soviet style government – NATIONALIZE!!! Another big yawn, plus he only won with 53% of the vote not like it was a huge margin. He sent the Army and seized 90% of the gas industry. Later Morals tried to change the Constitution from 2/3 to only 50% needed for Constitutional amendments. Acts that aren’t very conciliatory but aimed at provoking conflict.

    The fact that the rich answered with only a political vote to secede speaks to restraint and an evolving standard of political decency in South America

    And while I’m a big Obama supporter, contributor and volunteer…why would you think that he would abandon the United States economic, diplomatic or military interests? It might look different, there might not be aircraft carrier landings in flight suits, and no shock and awe, and no preemptive war, he will protect and advance American interests (even the ones you don’t like)

  3. May 16, 2008

    Well Mark, you have described in a very good way the conflict in Bolivia,,, however, let me try to explain you something about it from a different prospective, from someone inside. I am not bolivian, but I´m one of their neighbours.

    For the european people which are thousands of miles away from us, is easy to think that Morale´s is trying to do the best for his country, Bolivia must be for Bolivians…. This can be obvious for you and for the people who has commented the report, but I guess for you is the first time you hear about Bolivia, for sure you have not read anything about the Southamerica history before.

    The people who have the lands or companies, is people who have work very hard to get them and make them productive, of course, they have to do some kind of associations with companies who has the technology and the markets, because education in Bolivia is very poor, and the goverments have never attend this. Well sometimes this associations are not equilibrate that´s true, but what Morales must do is support them to improve their companies, their deals, in that way they can give employment to the rest, and people must get use to work!, they can not spend their lifes waiting for some goverment to give them a house or food!, how you are going to expect some improvement in your country with people who do not care to improve their way of living???

    Imagine someone who has a land of 1000 hectareas, in this land this guy has some cows and after hard work, he hass start a small company of meat, and he sell the meat in the town.
    Well, one day the goverment decide to take him the land and divided it by 1000, so you think, oh.. now you have land for 1000 families,,,,but this families do not know how to work in the land!

    Now,,, you have 1000 families asking for food and meat, because the small caws company has dissapeared….

    Understand, just a goverment can not support all the people,, the people must be able to support them selves, what a goverment must do, is to support them to achive goals, starat companies, improve education!!

    And please.,,, forget the States!!! this is a very old excuse!! Bolivia and some other countries in Latinoamerican have not be able to progress because of the corruption and the lazy people.


  4. May 21, 2008

    Your arguments are in large part based upon false premises, misinformation, prevarication or outright lies you might believe.

    There is a huge difference between small-business capitalism and unfettered multinational capitalism which controls government, otherwise known as fascism. Morales is for the former and against the latter–and you should know that.

    You claim “The people who have the lands or companies, is people who have work very hard to get them and make them productive….” yet fail to understand (or admit) that the largest and richest stakeholders bought their positions with bribes, or used force to steal them from the indigenous. Morales has stopped that, and intends to reverse those illegalities.

    You then pose a ‘strawman argument’ with a fictitious tale about Morales supposedly dividing up a 1000 hectare (~2,500 acres!) farm and giving it to 1000 families with the suggestion that they could not prosper from it. There is no basis in fact for that suggestion. In fact, Morales’ reforms would limit individual land-holdings to 10,000 or 15,000 hectares (25,000 or 37,500 acres)–certainly plenty of land to achieve farming prosperity.

    Then you claim–“Understand, just a goverment can not support all the people,, the people must be able to support them selves, what a goverment must do, is to support them to achive goals, starat companies, improve education!!”–all the while failing to understand (or admit) that by providing more Bolivians with the means of production (land), that more people will be able to support themselves, and start their own companies so that government handouts will be less needed.

    With the neo-liberal economics that you suggest, were most Bolivians educated? The answer is unfortunately no. Since Morales’ was elected, and due in large part to the help of Cuba, many Bolivians are now literate who were previously denied any education.

    And lastly, you accuse Bolivians of being corrupt and lazy. From my experiences in Bolivia (as opposed to your pot-shots from without) I can attest to the fact that there are few harder-working and more honest people on this earth, and why you seem to want to tear them down is a mystery leading me to wonder whether you have another agenda, or if it is you, not Mark who is the uneducated one with the hubris of the kettle calling the pot black?

    What is your real agenda, Cleo?

    With little regard,,,John

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