Bolivia Breaking Up?
Jack Wheeler, guesting at Winds of Change, says the current map of Bolvia may soon become “obsolete.”
For some time now, a lot of Bolivians have been conducting a “Gas War,” blocking roads, demonstrating in cities like El Alto and Cochabamba to prevent the export of Bolivian natural gas by foreign companies. The fellow coordinating the protests is Evo Morales, a Marxist protÃƒ©gÃƒ© of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, the leader of the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) Party, and also the leader of coca leaf growers (the stuff that’s made into cocaine). The protests brought down the presidency of Gonzalo Sanchez do Lozada in October 2003 and continue to escalate: 820 in the last 17 months. The current government of Sanchez’s successor Carlos Mesa in teetering.
There’s just one problem for Morales and Chavez. The Bolivians who are protesting are not the Bolivians who live where the gas is. Bolivia is about to split in two.
The people who live in the lowland states of Santa Cruz, Tarija, and Beni are predominantly Europeans (e.g., Spanish, Italian, German extraction). These states, with only 20% of Bolivia’s population (total 8.8 million) account for all of Bolivia’s gas production, and well over half of the country’s manufacturing and agriculture.
The other 80% live in the highlands of the Andes mountains, in the Altiplano or Andean valleys such as the Yungas and Cochabamba Ã¢€“ and they are predominantly Indian, mostly Quechua or Aymara. Led by Evo Morales, a majority of them are demanding the seizure and nationalization of the gas reserves and production facilities in the lowlands. His MAS Party is being financed by Hugo Chavez, who sees himself as Fidel Castro’s intellectual heir and is attempting to Marxist-revolutionize all of South America.
This does not sit well with the prosperous and anti-Marxist CruceÃƒ±os (the folks in Santa Cruz, the lowlands’ center), who have come to despise the ruling elite in the capital city of La Paz (and who are thus called PaceÃƒ±os), so much so that they have forced President Mesa to hold a referendum in June, whereby the CruceÃƒ±os get to vote for their autonomy from the national government.
There’s a lot more at the link, including several maps.