Bolivia on the brink

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.

Here’s a shocker

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.