Bolivia polarized
bolivia | by Miguel Centellas | 06 Apr, 2004 at 12:13 PM | comments (0) | trackback (0)

La Razón conducted a survey of six civic organizations: COB (Central Obrera Boliviana), COR (Central Obrera Regional de El Alto), CSUTCB (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia), Comité Cívico de Santa Cruz, Comité Cívico de Tarija, and CAINCO (the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce & Industry). It highlighted that different regional groups have directly opposed views of how to manage the country post-October.

While Santa Cruz & Tarija civic groups point to foreign investment & greater involvement in the world economy, civic groups in the altiplano want a stronger state role & less globalization. One cruceńo leader denounced that radical groups have too much influence on the government, and that the east won't allow itself to be "dragged" into poverty. Carlos Valverde Barbery, a cruceńo political analyst, argued that the only solution was to divide the country in two. He also argued that in the 165 years of Bolivia's existence, not a single central government has been a friend to Santa Cruz (his words, not mine).

Regional disagreements are divided into five areas:

Hidrocarbons: While COB, COR, and CSUTCB leaders demand the sector's nationalization as the "mandate" of October, Tarija's Roberto Ruiz argues that gas must be exported & that speaking of ownership is mere "sophistry" — not to mention that the gas & oil are in the east, not the west.

Decentralization: Fearing a division of the country, western leaders instead propose a national "reconciliation" between the indigenous & middle class. Some eastern leaders propose a flat out division of the country into two; others propose a great degree of regional autonomy.

Security: Eastern leaders demand strengthening of the legal system — especially in the area of property & investment law, in order to make the country more economically competitive. Western leaders denounce such a legal system as merely benefiting the rich & transnationals.

Land: Western leaders speak in terms of national land redistribution. Meanwhile, eastern leaders demand greater security for land property rights & the idea that such decisions shouldn't be made by a central government in La Paz.

Taxes: Both sides reject Mesa's moderate tax proposals. But for different reasons. Western leaders want greater taxes on the rich & middle class — and, especially, the oil & gas transnationals. Eastern leaders oppose further taxes on the "productive class" and demand a "universalization" of taxes (such as clamping down on the informal sector).

NOTE: Tarija, Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando are generally considered the "eastern" part of Bolivia. La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Cochabamba are the "western" part of Bolivia. Chuquisaca is a puzzle (sometimes it wants to secede along w/ Tarija).

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