Source: NACLA Report on the Americas The Bolivian government will commit $900 million to develop a state-run lithium industry, according to the Strategic Plan for Lithium Industrialization unveiled by President Evo Morales on October 21. […]
‘Social control’ is a phrase tossed around constantly by Bolivia’s government these days. Touted as an indigenous approach to solving problems large and small, it privileges collective over individual rights, drawing its inspiration from pre-Hispanic indigenous organization.
The recent conflict in Bolivia is similar to others across Latin America between the promises of left-leaning governments, the needs of the people and the finite resources of Pachamama (Mother Earth). […]
On August 16, after 19 days of blockades and hunger strikes in urban Potosí and surrounding areas, Potosí civic leaders and MAS officials reached an agreement to end protests. After protest leaders and Bolivian government officials met in Sucre, the Morales administration agreed to begin work on the demonstrators’ six demands. […]
In a recent interview, after praising the government’s respect for human dignity, responsible development, and Mother Earth, Vergara Garinca was asked about the economy under Morales: “Bolivia has grown economically at a rate of approximately 4 percent [under Morales]; however, in spite of the fact that many say that this growth has brought big economic benefits for Tarija [a hydrocarbons-rich department in the eastern lowlands], these aren’t being felt by the people, because they have been concentrated in a few hands, and have never reached the general population.”
Dispersing Power: Social Movements as Anti-State Forces by Raúl Zibechi offers an exciting account of why social movements in Bolivia are so resilient and powerful, making the publication of this book timely; it focuses on the most vibrant social movements that preceded the election of one of the most dynamic and intriguing presidents among the region’s new left.
Bolivian social movements have practiced two different paths of social change: by taking government power as Evo Morales and his political party MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) have done, or change from below proposed in the past visionary movement-wide proposal for a Constituent Assembly, and in the well-organized, directly democratic and strategic practices of the movement organizations and mobilizations. Neither model fit’s into simplistic old ideological boxes—anarchist, socialist or progressive.
With more than half the planet’s known lithium reserves, Bolivia may hold the keys to the future of the electric car, and just at a time when its President has declared that the nation, not foreign corporations, will control that development and make the profits. But obviously, it is a story far more complicated than that. There are serious environmental questions, significant uncertainties about the future demand for lithium, and doubts about Bolivia’s capacities to pull off such an ambitious project.