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Sun. September 23, 2018
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Crumbling Bolivia
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By Adam Kott, 09/12/2008 The landlocked South American nation of Bolivia has made international headlines recently, but President Evo Morales cannot be happy that his country is garnering attention for its increasingly violent internal struggles. Over the past year Bolivia has become divided over the future direction of the nation. Since he assumed office in 2006, Morales has set his nation on a socialist path with the aim of providing economic equality to the large indigenous population. An indigenous Aymara himself, the president has pushed for the national redistribution of profits from various industries, most importantly natural gas and oil. The energy-rich regions of the east have watched their profits been stripped and given to the poor indigenous areas of Western Bolivia. Because of this policy, citizens in the eastern regions are demanding more autonomy from the government. A few extremists have even gone so far to push for complete independence from Morales and Bolivia due to their differing political and economic ideologies. While a few months ago the clamoring against Morales was mostly in the form of verbal attacks, in the past week violence has surged in Bolivia and caused a serious crisis. Anti-government protests have left dozens dead and at least 100 people injured. Natural gas pipelines in the nation’s east have been seized and in some cases attacked and destroyed. This attack caused a 10% drop in the sale of natural gas to one of Bolivia’s largest trade partners, Brazil. As his divided nation continues to tread forward, Evo Morales is making serious attempts to increase his personal power. A December referendum on a new constitution could let him redistribute land to Bolivia’s impoverished indigenous majority at his own will. Mr. Morales is correct to push for the new constitution now, as he received a mandate from his people in an August recall referendum, garnering 67% of the votes. Despite what appears to be a strong majority behind him, the December referendum will not be an easy victory for the president. The energy-rich provinces are full of wealthy businessmen who will do all they can to make sure the referendum fails. It does not look good for these business interests however as they are vastly outnumbered by the nation’s indigenous who have aligned themselves with Morales wholeheartedly. On an international level, Morales has recently alienated himself from the United States and much of Europe. Rather than embracing the West as a trading partner who could help provide billions in energy revenue and foreign investment, Morales has instead shunned it. Morales has turned his back on the U.S. despite the United States’s attempts to help wean the nation off of its reliance on coca as a cash crop by providing billions of dollars in aid for alternative farming,. Additionally, the president expelled the United States’s ambassador for inciting the anti-government protests in a brash diplomatic move. It seems as if Morales has ruled out the United States as an ally on any sort of level. For now the political state of Bolivia remains uncertain as the government is unequipped to deal with this surge of internal violence.

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