Scribbles from Bolivia No. 9 - 28.01.2010

This weekly newsletter is being published by Axel Anlauf collaborator of Somos Sur from November 2010 to February 2011.

1 year as a Plurinational State and 5 years of Evo Morales

On Saturday 22th January Bolivia celebrated its first anniversary as a Plurinational State, which was the motive for a big celebration in La Paz and a three hour long speech of Evo Morales. As “the last president of the colonial centralistic state” and as the “first president of the plurinational autonomous state he presented a socio-economic balance of the Andean country. (in continuation a small selection of numbers)

evoalvaroaniversarioThe administration governing since 2006 can record a solid economic growth between 6,1% (2008) and 3,4% (2009) (both real), which is mainly triggered by exporting natural resources. In 2004 Bolivia gained 565 Million Dollar with these, in 2008 already 2.647 Million Dollar due to the “nationalization” and high international prizes.

The record amount of international reserves, which has reached more than 10Billion Us Dollar was especially celebrated (though 2005 it was barely a tenth), while also the foreign debt has halved to 2,5 Billion US-Dollar.

With regard to the distribution of wealth the government also advanced: The expenditure for public buildings doubled to 1714 Million Dollar during the last five years in comparison to the period 2001-2005.

In the health sector the infant morbidity could be reduced from 5,4% to 4,5% due to special programs and 441neu health centers (there is a total number of 2786 in Bolivia now), but this result does not satisfy the president.

The balance in the educational sector is more positive, where an alphabetization campaign could reduce the rate of analphabets to 4%, which makes Bolivia a country “free of analphabetism” according to an UNESCO declaration.

Also many people could benefit from the repeated increase of the minimum wage to some 73€ by now and the introduction of a universal minimum pension.

Indeed by this further distribution of wealth and by the “nationalization” of key industries like the hydrocarbons (whose effectiveness is increasingly criticized) first steps toward a “socialismo comunitario”* have been taken. But these measures remain adjustments of a still capitalistic organization of society.

New protests against increasing prizes

Thus the speech and the celebration was accompanied by a bitter taste of the gasolinazo (see Scribbles 6) and the now sneaking raise of prizes for comestibles (see Scribbles 8). Morales wanted people to stop quarrelling and put the national interests in front of the sectoral, regional and individual interests.

protesta_LlallaguaBut since the primacy of “national interests” does not feed anyone, during this week many people protested against the increasing prizes of comestibles, which especially worsen the budget of low income families and individuals. During a demonstration of some thousand miners and farmers in the department of Potosi dozens of comestible shops were robbed out of rage towards the increasing prizes.

During a demonstration of some thousand miners and farmers in the department of Potosi dozens of comestible shops were robbed out of rage towards the increasing prizes.
The day after in highly populated zones of La Paz a lot of merchants did not open their shops fearing a similar destiny.

While the bus drivers negotiated a nationwide raise of the tariffs for public transport (see Scribbles 8), also the producers of milk announced to sell their milk at 50% higher price to the Monopolist PIL.

And all this without a raise of the petrol price –if that start, we will be in a fine mess!

So see you next time.

Axel Anlauf


*the concept aims to combine comunitarian traditional Andean forms of economy with a state-steered economy orientated towards the internal market, but it remains quite unspecific in the words of its creator Alvaro Garcia Linera, the MAS-chief-ideologist and Vicepresident. (it the picture above on the right)