The New Bolivia

As has already been posted here, and as anyone with a sense of Latin American politics knows, Bolivia recently elected the country's first indigenous person to the presidency - Evo Morales. While his election made international headlines (even in the U.S.), not much has been reported since. Well, I found an article by an online service from Cuba that offers an update on what's going on down in Bolivia. The article reports on Morales' proposal calling for the election of a constituent assembly that will 'refound' the nation, and "free the country from neoliberalism." Morales explained:
the Assembly'’s function is to change the structures of the state, to unite and integrate national territory, eliminate discrimination, recover Bolivia'’s natural resources and transform the republic's history of discrimination, plunder and submission.
About the process and possible affects:
After winning over the opposition in at least three new departments of Bolivia: Beni, Pando and Tarija, which had threatened to block the project, Morales achieved national unity and a majority approval in Congress. The election is scheduled for July 2.

The Bolivian government affirmed that the enactment of the law marked a great day of vindication for the indigenous peoples that would lead to a new era of justice and plenitude.

And finally, Morales announced his new nationalization plan:

The Bolivian government has announced its plan to recover control of the large state companies that were privatized between 1995 and 1996 during the first term of ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

The nationalization plan will affect 10 companies: three oil ones, three electric, two railroads, one telecommunication and one airline, reported ANSA.

In order to assume control of these10 companies, Minister of Planning Carlos Villegas announced that the state is to assume 51% of the shares of each, by adding the purchase of 1% of the shares held by private associates to the 50% base that already belongs to the state.

"We want to buy (that 1%), but if they do not want to sell it, we will take decisions of another nature in order to ensure that the Bolivian state can exercise its right to 51% ownership," explained Villegas.

The process dubbed "de-capitalization" that occurred during 1995 and 1996 involved the five main state entities of that period, some of which, in association with private capital, created another five companies according to their specialization within the sector.

The private investors received partial administrative control of each privatized company as a guarantee on their investments.

Once the majority of the shares are recovered by the state, it will have the capacity to make decisions within each company.
With these major fundamental changes being proposed, Morales must definitely be on the radar of the U.S. - along with his friend Chavez in Venezuela. Because Bolivia has a population composed of a majority of indigenous, he has the popular backing of the people. However, his moves must be making waves among the elite who have traditionally controlled the country (as in the rest of Latin America). One can only wonder how long Morales will last as a head of state before outside intervention comes into play. On the other hand, perhaps this is just the beginning of a movement to equalize the economic playing field - not only among nations, but also among the people.
Finally... check out this link for some more up-to-date goings on down in Bolivia

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