Tip News

December 05, 2019

Bolivia: Turmoil in Latin America's indigenous heartland - Tip News

Bolivia: Turmoil in Latin America's indigenous heartland

Bolivia: Turmoil in Latin America's indigenous heartland
'General view of La Paz, Bolivia' - By: AFP/File PEDRO UGARTE

Landlocked Bolivia, in crisis after its president quit amid protests over a disputed election, is among Latin America's poorest countries despite having huge gas reserves. It is home to the region's largest indigenous population.

Here are some key facts about the country of 11 million people:

- First indigenous president -

Evo Morales became the first indigenous president of Bolivia in 2006 after a landmark election victory broke decades of domination by an elite largely of European or mixed descent.

Morales, a member of the Aymara indigenous community, steered through a new constitution aiming to bolster the rights and living conditions of indigenous people, where 62 percent of the population hail from indigenous groups.

Around 36 indigenous languages are officially recognised -- including Quechua, Aymara and Guarani -- along with an indigenous legal system different to state law.

- Political instability -

Morales had been the region's longest-serving leader, credited with bringing relative stability to a volatile country.

The one-time coca farmer from the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party was reelected in 2009 and 2014 with more than 60 percent of the vote.

After election on October 20, 2019, the electoral authorities once again declared Morales the winner with 47 percent of ballots. But the result was disputed, leading to weeks of protests in which three people were killed and more than 250 injured.

Lawmakers are now set to choose an interim president, with Morales heading into exile in Mexico.

Bolivia has a history of political instability. Since independence in 1825, there have been about 200 coups or attempted coups. Between 1978 and 1982, there were nine different governments.

- Nationalized economy -

Bolivia's economic growth has outstripped most of its regional neighbours, reaching 4.2 percent in 2018 according to the World Bank.

Morales nationalized the gas and oil sectors, boosting government revenue from the industries from $673 million in 2005 to $2.28 billion in 2018.

The state also controls telecommunications, pensions, hydroelectric power stations, airports and mining, using much of the money to fund social programmes and public infrastructure.

Morales increased the minimum wage several times.

- Mineral-rich but poor -

While still among the poorest countries in Latin America, Bolivia's poverty rate decreased from 45 percent of the population in 2010 to 35 percent in 2018, according to the World Bank.

It sits on the region's second-largest gas reserves -- after Venezuela -- and the world's largest reserves of lithium.

The country has courted foreign investment, particularly from China, to help exploit its resources, aiming to become the world's fourth-largest producer of lithium by 2021.

Bolivia is the world's third biggest cultivator of coca -- which can be used to produce cocaine -- after Colombia and Peru, according to the UN.

- Landlocked and forested -

Bolivia lost its prized route to the Pacific Ocean in a 19th century war with Chile and now sits landlocked, bordered by Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru.

In 2018 the UN's International Court of Justice rejected its bid to regain access to the coast.

La Paz is the highest capital city in the world, at 3,900 metres (12,800 feet) above sea level, and the Andes mountain range covers a third of Bolivian territory.

About half of the land area is forested, most of it Amazon equatorial rainforest.

Weeks of fires from August to October this year ravaged more than four million hectares (10 million acres) of forest and grassland, killing more than two million wild animals including jaguars and llamas.

Short link: https://tipnews.com/u/MTExMTMz

See also:

Related articles

Life in Oswiecim, a town in Auschwitz's shadow

Life in Oswiecim, a town in Auschwitz's shadow

Only train tracks and barbed wire separate the former German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau from Oswiecim. Its 40,000 Polish residents try to lead normal lives despite knowing their town will always be associated with the Holocaust, much like Hiroshima is forev

Huawei moves to overturn 'unlawful' US subsidy ban

Huawei moves to overturn 'unlawful' US subsidy ban

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei said on Thursday it has petitioned a US court to overturn a ban that prevents carriers in rural America from buying the firm's equipment by tapping an $8.5-billion federal fund.Huawei's petition said the ban -- imposed last mont

Auschwitz survivor's 'duty to the dead'

Auschwitz survivor's 'duty to the dead'

Leon Schwarzbaum is one of the last survivors of Auschwitz -- the Nazi death camp that Chancellor Angela Merkel will be visiting for the first time on Friday.At 98, he says his "duty to the dead" is to bear witness about what happened to him."I had the good

Sun yields its secrets to Parker Solar Probe

Sun yields its secrets to Parker Solar Probe

NASA's Parker Solar Probe, having survived its closest encounter so far with the Sun, has sent back a "spectacular trove" of data on its corona, the super-hot outer edge of its atmosphere, scientists said Wednesday.The car-sized probe, launched in August la

HELLO, PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO RATE THIS POST Bolivia: Turmoil in Latin America's indigenous heartland

Sending comment Close