After three weeks of mobilisations in defence of Bolivia’s gas reserves, the country’s political crisis continues to deepen. A June 2 attempt to quash the crisis by President Carlos Mesa, by calling elections for a new assembly, and for a referendum on autonomy for the country’s wealthier provinces, has done little more than enrage his opponents.
Demanding “nationalisation now”, a seemingly endless series of marches, strikes and blockades have saturated La Paz. In a city where few people normally smoke, people are everywhere drawing on cigarettes, applying the Bolivian antidote to tear gas.
There is general consensus that the political model in Bolivia has failed; that two decades of market-led reforms have enriched a small elite but failed to deliver promised benefits to Bolivia’s mostly indigenous poor.
Well, that’s precisely what neo-liberalism and globalization do – enrich the tiny few, impoverish the rest. This is no accidental byproduct of the process.