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Measure Seeking Greater Economic and Political Autonomy - A Brief on the Bolivian Situation
by B Ananthanarayan
According to news reports dated May 5, 2008, the wealthy region of Santa Cruz in Bolivia has approved ``a measure seeking greater economic and political autonomy according to exit polls.'' Three other provinces are expected to carry out referenda. These votes do not have constitutional sanction and the President of Bolivia Evo Morales has denounced the vote as illegal.
Ever since the election of the first indigenous President of Bolivia, there have been efforts by various sections of the traditional ruling classes to undermine this watershed development. There has also been a history of interference in the affairs of the country by US imperialism. The history of the country has been one of brutal European colonialism which has subjugated the indigenous peoples through the centuries. The indigenous and European populations to large measure remain segregated, and there has been little to suggest that the gulf can be narrowed. The traditional ruling classes coming from the European population have resented the rise of indigenous consciousness and in particular the election of a President from this population. The history of Bolivia has been one of struggles culminating in the liberation from Spain in the early 19th century, spearheaded by the hero Simon Bolivar after who the country takes its name. In the 20th century the country has witnessed countless military governments and more recently neo-liberal free market seeking Governments that have thrown open the doors to various multinational corporations to exploit the vast natural resources of the country. The rise of Evo Morales has been seen as a threat to these interests.
The present wave of autonomy votes reflects the unbridgeable gap between the populations in Bolivia. It appears to be an attempt to undermine the new Government of Bolivia. The problems of the peoples of Bolivia cannot be solved by further ghettoization. The solutions can emerge only from consideration of all the problems of the peoples. Furthermore, there can be no tolerance of the influence of US imperialism. Any attempt to destroy the fabric of Bolivia will lead only to a disaster for the peoples of the country and the region.