Amigos de Sucre

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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Having a Gamble

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

If you we to ask me where the next casino capital of the world was going to be, the last place I’d think of would probably be Bolivia.

And yet, an item on the BBC News website paints a somewhat different light on the subject.

It turns out to be down to Russian investors in the country, looking for somewhere to put their money once casinos in their own country become more restricted later this year.

So where do you build a casino in Bolivia and who is likely to visit it?  Looking at the pictures on the news item, I could just about image such neon-lighted structures in Santa Cruz, but one casino operator is apparently due to open an outlet in El Alto!

Who is going to go to a casino in El Alto?  It’s the poorest part of La Paz, where the airport is located.  When I last visited we were even warned not go to there unaccompanied, especially on foot, because of the dangers of being attacked on the way to or from it!

So will there rich Bolivians from the around La Paz being taken in high-security limousines to well-guarded casinos on the outskirts of the city?

Refounding Bolivia

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

“Bolivia is being re-founded”.  That is what President Evo Morales told crowds in La Paz last week after the referendum on a new constitution for the country.  Indeed, having looked at what the new constitution will mean for Bolivia, it does seem to be a step forward in may areas, without being as radical as some though it may have turned out to be.

Two points in particular stand out as they appear to be a compromise of different viewpoints.

1. Whilst President Morales can re-stand for the presidential office at the next elections – scheduled for December 2009 – he will not be available for re-election after that in 2014.

2. Changes to laws on land-ownership will not be applied retrospectively, so should only affect new owners.  That may still not be welcome by some, but I am sure that previous governments – not just in Bolivia – would have been only too ready to take away land from the larger land-owners, only to give it out of principle to peoople who would not know what to do with it.

Another interesting part of the new constitution is the expansion of autonomy in the country, with a system that – at first glance, at least – sounds very much like the federal government structure in Germany.  And yet, first indications are that areas such as Santa Cruz and Tarija are against it.  This seems strange to me, as I though those areas wanted more independence?

Anyway, I guess it’s not all over yet.  The vote was obviously very close (with figures quoted just over 50% in favour).  I am sure we will hear much more about what really happens in Bolivia in the comings months.

Free Trade… except for Bolivia

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Recently U.S. President Bush has been pushing for free trade.  I have heard him talk about it, at least.  And, of course, I’ve been reading about it online.

However, as El Paso Times reports, this does not extend to trade with Bolivia.  To put it bluntly: the U.S. will impose import tariffs on Bolivian goods, because the Bolivians won’t play ball on drug erradication.

Now, of course there is a cultural element here and I could talk about the different views to growing coca, but at the end of the day the U.S.A. is flexing its muscles and using its position on the world market to try and influence the internal politics of another country.  Or have I got this wrong somehow?

Bolivian President Morales doesn’t seem to be too worried about losing one of his main export markets, and is quoted as saying he won’t accept conditions for trading with the U.S.  This is an interesting position for him to take.  If he gave in to Bush’s demands, he may appear weak to he own people.  But by remaining determined, he may cause those very same people to lose they jobs.

Which is the lesser evil?

The U.S. votes – and Bolivia waits…

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Bolivia has not really got on too well with President Bush’s administration.

Over the past year they have expelled each other’s ambassadors.  Bolivia has accused U.S. officials of supporting anti-government demonstrations, whilst the U.S. has withdrawn trade benefits because it says Bolivia is not co-operating as much as they would like on the battle against illegal drugs.

So this morning I was fascinated by a headline in my inbox this morning: “Bolivia wants better ties with next U.S. government.”

What does Bolivia expect from the new administration?  I’m not so sure that either candidate in the U.S. would change much in the relationship with Bolivia.  A new U.S. President cannot be seen to be soft on drugs, and unfortunately for many people the local uses of the coca leaf in Bolivia are ignored – for them it is the basis for cocaine and nothing else.

President Morales, on the other hand, will not want to make concessions to a new U.S. President and disadvantage his own people.

So whatever the outcome of today’s election, I think the stalemate will continue.  But perhaps with the right result, it may be a case of laissez-faire, with each side leaving the other to get on with their policies.  In the long run this could help both countries more than applying unwanted pressure.


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