Bolivia After the “No” Vote | NACLA Report

Beyond the defeat of Evo Morales’ referendum, political struggles wage on.

Bret Gustafson

As most now know, Bolivian President Evo Morales suffered a narrow defeat in the constitutional referendum vote on February 21.  A ‘Yes’ vote would have allowed Evo to represent his Movement to Socialism Party (MAS) in a run for a third term in 2019.  Despite recent setbacks, it seemed that the combination of economic success and political support within Bolivia would lead Evo to a win, and a chance to serve nearly two decades in office.  Yet by the middle of February, Evo was in the midst of an increasingly messy situation.  There were growing revelations about an ex-lover, a love child, and corruption tied to a Chinese firm. Was Evo, who always seemed above the scandals that plagued the administration, caught in a tragic drama of lust and influence-trafficking?

Evo denied it. The child had died in infancy, he claimed he was told. And, despite evidence to the contrary, he said he had no more ties with the child’s mother.  Yet the opposition rediscovered its internal feminist and decried Evo’s machista lack of rectitude. How, they asked, could he be so dismissive of the whole affair?  Meanwhile, Evo was already dealing with fallout from a corruption scandal at FONDIOC, the Indigenous Development Fund.  As officials closer to Evo began falling under the investigative lens, a long muffled racism erupted. Here was the chance to destroy Evo, supposedly the world’s iconic representative of Indigenous and popular struggle.  The moment was ripe for detractors of all political stripes to attack.

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New Left Review 85, January-February 2014

by Joshua Berson.

A Critique

A few years ago the New York Times reported from Bolivia that quinoa, once a staple food of the Andean highlands, had become too expensive for local consumers, who were finding themselves priced out by the booming export market. Quinoa farmers may have benefited from growing demand in the us and Europe, but quinoa’s popularity among health-conscious rich-world consumers was helping to push Bolivians towards cheaper, processed foods. Domestic consumption of the pearly grains declined by a third between 2005 and 2010, as the export price tripled. Malnutrition is up in quinoa-growing regions. Other reports described bitter battles over prime plots, with dozens injured when farmers fought with slings and sticks of dynamite over what was once abandoned land.

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