The awakening struggle in Bolivia

Positive political change in Bolivia requires the United States to be hands-off.

The two-thirds indigenous populations of Bolivia are fighting years of gold, silver, tin and natural gas exportation while 60 percent of Bolivians remain impoverished.

The recent struggle portrays the desire for complete economic determination by the Bolivians to end a history of exploitation. Political unrest in Bolivia led to President Carlos Mesa’s resignation and new interim President Eduardo Rodriguez’s promise to hold elections in December. As December approaches, many questions are unexamined. Will the elections be an accurate representation of the people’s popular will, and will U.S. influence have a role in the process?

The current Bolivian constitution forces candidates to obtain 50 percent of the votes to win the presidential elections; otherwise, Congress selects the president between the top two candidates. Former coca farmer Evo Morales and U.S. Embassy-supported Jorge Quiroga are the two prime candidates. The coming election is a true representation of the power struggle taking place between the few elite and the majority working class of La Paz. Without a 50 percent vote, whether the elite Congress will honor the wishes of the people is unpredictable. However, it appears obvious that the recent demonstrations are telling of the fact that, with the exception of Colombia, Latin American countries are tired of U.S. control over their financial and natural resources. Unfortunately, the United States has a history of pressuring Latin American countries to secure its interests. Cuba, Nicaragua, and more recently, the U.S. role in the coup against Venezuelen President Chavez in 2002 are all examples.

Paraguay recently accepted the U.S. base after the Bush administration’s threat of millions lost in aid for failure to comply. Ironically, the location of the base is 124 miles from Bolivia, close enough to breed a coup and conveniently within the vicinity of Paraguay’s water resources and Bolivia’s natural gas.

The U.S. counterterrorism force argues that the area has “terror links” based on an alleged 1995 visit by Khalid Mohammed, a supposed 9/11 mastermind. Americans should not be fooled by this; this is the same rhetoric used for the Iraq war. Clearly the Bush administration has no right in the base and U.S. citizens must actively fight against U.S. imperialism against those who want political and economic determination.