Tag Archives: Bolivia

Morales Backs Down on Sanitary Law

Source: infolatam

Evo Morales has announced that he is suspending a decree that was intended to increase the working day of doctors and health professionals to more than 8 hours. The suspension of the decree is in response to an indefinite strike by health workers. Bolivia’s largest union, La Central Obrera Boliviana, had also planned a strike against the degree for next weekend. The strike was also intended to draw attention to the perilous state of the country’s hospitals, the lack of plans to increase health care provision in line with population growth, and the continuing shortages of supplies and medicines.

This is not the first time that Morales has stepped back from a policy in response to huge protests. In January of last year he retracted a proposed 70% rise in petrol prices after it provoked huge protests. Morales has been successful in tackling some of Bolivia’s major problems. Poverty has decreased, the budget is balanced, and inflation is under control, but if Bolivia is to truly make strides towards becoming a modern country then Morales will need to find some cojones and implement his policies with a little more conviction.

 

 

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Morales Expropriates Electricity: Evo Shows Kirchner How It’s Done

Evo Morales announces expropriation of TED
Source; La Razón

Bolivian President Evo Morales announced yesterday that he was nationalising Transportadora de Electridad (TED) owned by the Spanish company Red Eléctrica Española (REE). Certain new sources, such as El País, have made a direct comparison between Morales’ actions and the expropriation of YPF a few weeks ago. There are, however, important differences between the two.

First, Morales used the same justification as Kirchner: that the Spanish company had not invested enough in Bolivia. ‘This company was profitable, but there was almost no capitalisation, almost no investment. In 17 years they had only invested $81 million,’ he said. Whereas Kircher’s claim that Repsol had not invested enough is difficult to sustain, Morales’ statement seems much more credible. Second, the tone that Morales used was much less aggressive than Kirchner’s. In his original announcement he said that he would be negotiating with REE to ensure that an agreement will be reached. Kirchner’s aggressive rhetoric and the poorly managed expropriation has caused significant tension between Argentina and Spain, and now Spain wants to impose economic sanctions. Third, Bolivia has the necessary expertise and capital to run and expand the country’s electricity network; the country does not require large quantities of foreign investment to ensure a good supply of electricity. On the other hand, the Argentinian government, by deterring foreign investment, has jeopardised the country’s future ability to fully exploit its reserves of shale oil and gas.

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Second March by Indigenous Groups Against Highway in Bolivia

Protesters on the first march in August 2011
Source: AP

Yesterday 300 members of various indigenous groups in Bolivia started a second march to the Bolivian capital La Paz to protest against a proposed highway that would cross a protected area. The marchers all come from the area of the Tipnis national reserve, located 600 kilometres from La Paz in the Bolivian Amazon. The first march, which started last summer, was a disaster for Evo Morales’ government. Morales chose to repress the march using police forces, which led to violent clashes. His decision led to widespread protest across the country and the resignation of two government ministers. In response to the violence,  the Central Obrera Boliviana, the largest trade union organisation in Bolivia called a general strike.

Under mounting pressure, the government canceled the project. It appeared that the march, despite the bloodshed, had been a success. After a few months, however, and several rallies supporting the project, the government rescinded on its promise and restarted the construction. The second march is significantly smaller than the first, with only 300 participants compared to 1,500 before, but it still has the possibility of causing major problems for Morales.

 

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Indigenous Groups Start to Collaborate Against Mega Projects

I read an interesting article today on the BBC about the way in which indigenous groups across Latin America are collaborating in order to share ideas about how to oppose projects that threaten their ways of life. The inter-ocean highway, a road that will run from the Atlantic coast through Brazil, Bolivia and Peru to the Pacific coast, has been especially important in prompting groups with common interests to cooperate. There is an interesting video about protests against the highway in Bolivia here. Various indigenous groups have meet at summits, and they are increasingly using the internet to share ideas and build links with one another. Groups have also shared ideas about how to oppose hydroelectric projects, which indigenous groups have opposed strongly in both Chile and Brazil.

The strengthening of indigenous groups can only be a good thing for democracies in Latin America that are still far from being truly representative. Their increased involvement in national and international communities should ensure that they are better represented and that their interests are properly considered by governments. However, if they truly want to be incorporated in the body politic (and some do not) then they must accept that their wishes have to be balanced against the need for better infrastructure in order to promote economic development.

 

 

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Friday Film: Cocalero

From today, I am going to be recommending a film about Latin America every Friday. The first film that I am recommending is Cocalero (2007), a film about the 2006 presidential campaign of Evo Morales in Bolivia. While the style of the film may not be for everyone, and it is at some points rather ambiguous, the hands-off approach of the director Alejandro Landes lets the subjects of the film speak for themselves.Set against the backdrop of the US-backed attempt to erradicate the Bolivian coca crop, it provides some fascinating insights in Morales and the people he wanted to represent, especially in the Bolivian countryside.

The film is also available on google video.

 

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