Bolivia was placed by nature in the middle of the Andean chain of high mountains.
First of 2 parts. Read here the second part.
The country also has plains, forests, jungle, many rivers and lakes. The total population is of 11.2 million, mostly Indians (more than 60%) the rest are whites and half-breeds. It is a multinational State since the new Constitution that was approved in 2009. The capital city is divided between La Paz and Sucre. The Executive, Legislative and Electoral Powers sit in La Paz and the Judicial Power in Sucre.
Bolivia does not have sea coast as a consequence of the Pacific War (1870) held between Chile and Peru. Bolivia sided with Peru who lost the war and Bolivia lost her sea port.
Since the foundation of Bolivia as a State in 1825, it has suffered more that 189 coups d’état. Its richness in minerals like silver, tin, antimony, lithium, uranium, as well as petroleum and gas, plus the voracity of foreign powers and capitals associated with the servilism of strong local minorities has enriched the soil to sew and crop the instability of the country.
From 1969, after president René Barrientos died in a helicopter accident, and till 1982, Bolivia had 10 different presidents acting as dictators, democrats or provisories in office; rightists (like Hugo Banzer), leftists (like Juan José Torres) and a dope dealer (like Luis Garcia Meza) who still is serving time in prison.
The history of Bolivia is of an unstable and impoverished country because of social inequalities, the open exploitation of oil and gas by foreign companies, low salaries, widespread unemployment, and stagnant economy.
Bolivia was the Cinderella of Latin America, only Haiti was below. If an Indian, pacing a sidewalk of La Paz, crossed himself with a white he would have to step down. We saw Indian children barefoot in Santa Cruz chasing coins thrown on the pavement by some well dressed white.
After 1982, a series of democratic elected presidents took office, like Siles Suazo, Paz Zamora, Quiroga, till 2002 when Gonzalo Sanchez Losada defeated Evo Morales by a narrow margin. During Sanchez Losada’s short tenure (2002-2003), public services were privatized along with other economic measures that provoked social unrest, and extended protests that were severely repressed by police and army.
In El Alto a dozen persons were shot to death from helicopters. The final toll resulted in 64 killed and 228 wounded across the country. Sanchez de Losada resigned and the Vice-president, Carlos Mesa was sworn as acting president. Social protests appeared again and in 2005 Mesa stepped down and the president of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodriguez was named interim president to call early elections in 2005.
Evo Morales Ayma won the presidential election and a new era started.
On January, 21 of 2006, the day before he was officially sworn in as president, the principals of Quechuas, Aimaras, Buliwayas, Wuliwayas, Guaranies and 41 other ethnic indigenous groups celebrated the Ceremony of Tihuanaco and crowned Evo as Apu Maliku, supreme Indian chief.
Nobody had received this appointment since Tupac Amaru.
The day after, on Jan. 22, 2006 he received the Presidential Band.
President Evo Morales and his Vice-president, Alvaro Garcia Liniera, achieved what for many was considered impossible: a stable Bolivia. Their dynamism of actions and reforms produced a new Constitution that created a Multinational State that gave real presence to more than 45 Indian ethnics. The original peoples now were regarded as inhabitants with rights and duties. We began to see well prepared indigenous persons in the cabinet of ministers, presidents of public entities, deputies and senators in Congress, ambassadors, representatives in different world forums.
This was something that the white “criollos” could not bear and they started intensively to conspire overall in Santa Cruz, epicenter of the white supremacist opposition. Yes, the conspiracy was defeated by Evo’s Revolution and normality returned to Bolivia, only that the conspirators went into hibernation to wait for better circumstances.
Evo’s Government nationalized the oil and gas productions fields that were in the hands of foreign companies and the national Bolivian corporation of YPFB assumed the operations. The results were good.
The annual income provided by these two energy commodities was in 2006 of US$300 million and in 2013 went up to US$1,5 billion. The oil reserves went from 1,700 million barrels in 2006 to 15,000 million barrels in 2014. The government also took control of the largest telephone company of Bolivia, the French corporation of cement production and the service of generation and distribution of energy. There were no further nationalizations or expropriations of private property. State owned land was distributed among poor peasants and Indians.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bolivia´s Gross Internal Product grew in average 5.2% every year during the Presidency of Evo. In 2009 the World Bank (WB) took Bolivia out of the list of countries with low income and placed it in that of medium income.
The so called Bolivian Miracle is based on the economic growth the country achieved between 2006 and 2019. The IMF, WB and the Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL), have acknowledged that during the period 2006-2019, the economy of Bolivia grew and went from US$9,573 million to US$42,401 million.
This is due to the nationalization of its natural resources (oil and gas), the stability of the boliviano currency versus international exchange rates, the incentives delivered to the internal market, the strong public investment in infrastructure, the industrialization of natural resources like gas and lithium. Add to this unemployment of 4.2% and a low inflation rate.
Bolivia was a country of growing prosperity for all.
We ask ourselves: what happened? What can go wrong for a government that exhibits such economic progress plus marvelous social advances, like a good health care system, free public education, the reduction of extreme poverty from 38.2% to 15.2%?
The big mistake of Evo Morales was to insist in his candidacy for the presidency for a fourth term when the Bolivian Constitution only allows two. That is the Constitution approved by the Bolivian people in the referendum of 2009 in response to Evo’s proposal.
Even worse, President Morales went further, and although it was prohibited he submitted to consultation with the electorate his nomination for presidential elections in a referendum. The Bolivian people said NO. But Evo did not rest; he bent the arm of the highest institution of justice and obtained a Supreme Court ruling that favored him.
Beyond the fact that democracy was put aside and the president acted like a dictator, we are inclined to conclude that Evo Morales forgot the position he holds since January, 21th. 2006, when in the ceremony of Tihuanaco was crowned Apu Maliku and supreme leader of the Indians ethnics. Evo Morales deceived these communities with his manipulations.
The fundamentalists and white supremacists took advantage of this and executed a civil coup d’etat. Evo’s insistence in running again for president was the key event of the chain of events that sparked the coup. Without it, Alvaro Garcia Liniera or another leader of Evo’s party (MAS) would have won de elections with no need of ballotage.
We have no doubt that Evo’s resignation was provoked by a civil uprising conducted by the white minority. They want to recover power to return the Indian population to the mountains and the forests. All the while, they keep the cities for them and only admit Indians as house servants, cleaning workers and trash collectors.
The acting President Jeanine Añez Chavez, on April, 14th, 2013 twitted: “I dream about a Bolivia free of Indian satanic rites, the city is not for Indians, they must go to the mountains or the Chaco”. (main image) If you add to this the attitude of Luis Fernando Camacho who is the leader of the coup, who entered in the Presidential Palace executing rites of exorcism with a Bible and Rosary in hand, while with the other was dispensing benedictions and shouting spells and prayers, we can expect the worse.
We must be aware that the indigenous ethnics of Bolivia are not going to forsake their rights. They are fighting for them and will keep on doing it although there is a severe repression by police and army. What will happen in the near future? A civil war? Will the white minority from the South East (Santa Cruz) conquer the West of Bolivia and massacre the Indians?