BOLIVIA GOES TO THE POLLS in October, with current President Evo Morales seeking re-election.
After years of struggles against neo-liberalism and privatisation in the country - including the famous ‘water wars’ - he won the presidential elections of 2005. He won again in 2009 and 2014.
Since 2006, Bolivia’s government has recovered Bolivia’s wealth, including its oil and gas industries, from foreign corporations and invested these resources in public services and social programmes, literally transforming the lives of millions. 60% of the total population were living below the poverty line, but that figure has been slashed in half. Two million Bolivians, one in five, are out of poverty.
Extreme poverty has been cut from nearly 40% to 17%. Bolivia had an illiteracy rate of 13%, but within three years the country was declared free of illiteracy. The sum total of these achievements means that life expectancy has increased from 64 to 71. And, last year, leading the way in Latin America, the economy grew by 4.4%.
Yet with the Trump administration’s interventionist agenda in Latin America, there is growing concern that Bolivia is now in its sights too, with the aim of stopping this progress.
Firstly, former US congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (and Trump ally on Latin America) asked the US last year to join efforts to prevent Morales from running elections, and attacked his presence on the UN security council by saying, “Morales has actively worked against US and regional security interests.”
Then, on 12th April this year, the US Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution expressing “concern” over Morales’ election bid. On the same day, a group of 15 Bolivian right wing opposition legislators published a letter directed to Trump, asking the US “to intercede in Latin America and prevent Evo Morales from running again.”
The Bolivian Workers’ Confederation (COB) was among many who criticised the letter, describing the signatories as “servants of the US empire.”
In the run-up to this election, the left internationally has a responsibility to speak up against yet more intervention from Trump in what he sees as the US’s “backyard”. As Jeremy Corbyn has said: “We unequivocally assert that Bolivia’s future must be a matter for the people of Bolivia, and any threats of intervention from the Trump administration must be firmly rejected.”
Hornsey and Wood Green CLP