Amigos de Sucre

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Archive for April, 2008

Will there be a referendum in Santa Cruz?

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

That is the question probably being most asked in Bolivia at the moment.

The area of Santa Cruz wants to hold a referendum on 4th May to decide on whether to become an autonomous region. About 1 million people will be voting, there’s just one problem: President Morales considers the referendum to be illegal.

There are many areas of the world that would like become more independent, but this area around Santa Cruz is not a simple matter of traditional boundaries or a separate culture. In a way, a lot of the problem is down to wealth.

Quite simply: much of the area has, and the rest of the country does not.

Santa Cruz is lower lying than the rest of Bolivia, so things grow there much easier. There are natural resources such as gas underground. And most importantly: there are foreign investments in the local industry, made easier by the good international connections to the relatively modern airport.

If Santa Cruz was to become independent, it would not have to share these resources with the rest of Bolivia, and that rest would suffer as a result.

Without the income that is generated by the area, the rest of Bolivia would probably become poorer – with less exports, less resources and damaged connections to the outside world.

One might almost says “let them get on with it” and create two countries, both with their own level playing fields, but one being much richer than the other. It reminds me of calls within Germany to separate the two halves of the country again, effectively to “rebuild the wall”.

Somehow I don’t think a referendum on that is likely in Germany just yet.  And somehow I’m wondering if President Morales will let the one in Santa Cruz go ahead.

We’ll find out next week…



 

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