Friday, June 10, 2005

What happened with Neo-liberalism in Bolivia?

UPDATE: These few days, we were flooded by the news of the Bolivian people's power who ousted their President Mesa from his office. This was his second time resignation in six months after he resumed to the office. Anyway, we might ask what happened in Bolivia? Why the President could resume the power and ousted again? Who are the people are against the President and his regime?

Many of the Asian may not know about a lot of socio-politic issues in the Latin American, this will be the opportunity for us to learn more about Latin America and their people's movement. In fact, we are facing the same trend of the Neo-liberalism in the Asia-Pacific as well. If we can understand the situation more, it will helpful for us to reflect our own movement as well.

The secretariat received an interesting email about the analysis about the current situation in Bolivia. Hopefully it will provide us with the comprehensive picture.

According to Gretchen Gordon, Bolivia is under the IMF neo-liberals policies for the last 20 years, the privatization of natural gas exploitation which occured in the mid 1990s.

Neo-liberal policies together with the privatization are the important part of the current crisis because the people have resulted in poverty, unemployment, underemployment, and discrimination.

The current upheaval in Bolivia centers around the question of who controls, and who benefits from Bolivia's natural resources, one of the only economic lifelines of what is the poorest country in South America. The overwhelming majority of Bolivian 9 million inhabitants are indigenous, and almost two-thirds struggle to survive far below the poverty line. For this majority, the analysis of the impacts of neoliberal policies is clear.

What are the future politic for the Bolivian?

President Carlos Mesa, who resigned from office late Monday night, handing the reigns over to Congress to determine how power would be transferred to the next President, appeared before Bolivians on national television late Tuesday night in an urgent plea for a full change of government as the only way to avert a civil war.

Mesa, a moderate free trade proponent himself, came to power in October 2003 when previous president Gonzalo Sanchez Lozada was overthrown by public outcry over plans to use Chilean ports on the Pacific coast to allow private exportation of Bolivia's gas.

The popular contender for the next presidential election is Evo Morales, leader of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) and a vocal opponent of US-backed neoliberal reforms. If Morales comes to power, Bolivia would become the seventh Latin American country to move to a leftist government, opposed to U.S. neoliberal policies, in recent years.

Meanwhile, in the capitol city of La Paz, completely blockaded byprotesters, Bolivians are beginning to run out of water, gas, and food, and tensions in the streets are escalating rapidly.

While social movement leaders and political actors scramble to find some sort of resolution before a war erupts, the only thing that is certain right now is that for Bolivia, a return to neoliberalism is not an option.