September 22, 2006

Civil War in Bolivia Looms Its Ugly Head

MABB © ®

Is there a possibility of civil war in Bolivia? According to a report by the Argentinean newspaper, El Cronista Comercial, there is a 56% chance that a civil war could brake out in Bolivia, due to the current situation and taking account of its history. This prediction has been made using a model which was used by companies around the world to predict such events. The model observes that throughout the world, conflicts have been mainly about economics. The article points out that in Bolivia the conflict is between the government and interests from the richer provinces.

It is striking to me that we are even talking about civil war when it comes to Bolivia, but recent events have caused us to speculate with the worst. Above all, there are the words of Vice-President (now acting president), Alvaro Garcia Linera. True to his roots, Garcia Linera urged the indigenous peoples of the Altiplano to rise and defend the natural resources from the "oligarchs" in Santa Cruz. He spoke this way in a speech given to a group of followers in the symbolic town of Warisata. This town has been the craddle of revolutionaries and main place of operations of Garcia Linera's own terrorist group, back when he was younger.

The Vice-President's words came on the back of the 24 hours strike failure staged by government's supporters around Santa Cruz. These MAS followers aimed at pressuring the opposition by closing major roads and living the city with out any activity.

Garcia Linera's words prompted a group of indigenous militants from the Omasuyos province in El Altiplano, to wanna go to Santa Cruz to "fight" for the natural resources. The Santa Cruz MAS faction is still deciding how to react to the words.

Here is prensa latina's report:

Bolivia Calls Campesinos to Arms

La Paz, Sep 21 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivian government has urged campesinos to take up arms if necessary in defense of the ongoing process of changes amid diverse political and social conflicts shaking the nation.

Wednesday, Acting President Alvaro Garcia made the exhortation in the locality of Warisata during the commemoration of the third anniversary of the first six deaths of the killing ordered by former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to crack down on a social protest.

The call comes amid conflict and pressure by conservative, regional and political forces for the Constituent Assembly to make decisions by two thirds.

"We must continue fighting and mobilizing to guarantee the Constituent Assembly, the hydrocarbons nationalization, the trial of Sanchez de Lozada, currently in the US, for genocide and the redistribution of lands," Linera pointed out.

His speech was immediately jumped upon by the opposition, among them Deputy Peter Maldonado, from the National Union group, who said the vice president had riled people up and created an improper scenario to negotiate with transnationals.

The Bolivian Executive is parleying with those companies over new operation contracts in line with the nationalization and the preeminence of the state hydrocarbons firm.

Other links on the topic here, here and here

Irresponsibly, Garcia Linera, has called on the campesinos to raise weapons to "defend" the natural resources. Eventhough he has already appologized and said that his words were misunderstood, people are already acting upon them. Bolivian society is further polarizing. So much so, that the prospect of civil unrest is looming.


mcentellas said...

Sadly, if civil war breaks out, the best scenario is secession. That would cause a lot of problems, too, of course. Like new minorities in each part of the split.

But can a civil war lead to reconcilliation? Probably not. Or what if Santa Cruz wins, and like the Sucre-La Paz federalist civil war of 1890s, moves the capital to Santa Cruz? Would the new Bolivia better serve the interests of the Andean indigenous communities? Most likely not.

And the question that's even further out there: Would regional powers remain neutral? Would Brazil and/or Argentina back Santa Cruz? It seems clear that Venezuela would back La Paz. What would the USA do?

mabb said...

The way I see it, secession won't be a choice. Even if the people in the media luna want to seceed, the andinos will not let them. There is too much to lose. I think, if stances are hardened, it will head down the road of confrontation. Sadly, people in Bolivia are all too ready for it.

Also, as a paceno, I'd be glad to see the seat of government leave the city. It is just not worth it. I would even go as far as propose to move it back to Sucre, the historical capital. And, if the crucenos want to do that to themselves, I would say, go ahead. La Paz is an easy prey for the bloqueadores. It may even rest political impact on marches and road blocks, because may be Sucre or Sta. Cruz may be harder to block out.

The question about the regional powers is interesting. I've been thinkig, at the very least, Brazil will want a say in it. If not active participation, at least they would make way for arms to get to the "rebels". And I think, it is pretty much clear which side the US will take. Although, I would doubt they would risk a confrontation with one of their most important oil suppliers. No matter how much they want it. Not even the dram team of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice, would even dare to risk a, much less, armed confrontation with Tiroloco McChavez. So, I think the US would hold on and sit tight, and perhaps play behind the scenes.

Jock said...


How are you? 1st of all, I´m sorry about writing to you as a comment, but I didn´t find your email.

I´m writing for you because I started a new project called "One at all", and I want you to be a member. Oh, you´ve been blogging for a long time!

It´s a project where we can discust about everything: culture, music, politics, etc.
But only one member from each country is permited. I´m still waiting for a good ammount of members to star the discussions.

What do you think? I´m looking for suggestions too. Would be a great pleasure to have you in the project! By the way, If you can indicate people from other countries, I´d thank you a lot!
Anyway, it´s just a project in which I believe!

All the best,

Diego Jock
One at All - Project

miguel said...

Hi, Diego:

Thanks for the invitation. Let me take a good look at your website, because I am traveling right now and do not have good access to the net. I will let you know next week.

But, thanks again!