Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bolivia nears civil war

The conflict in Bolivia has boiled over, with violence across the eastern provinces. The eastern region, which has traditionally been more wealthy than the western region (populated mainly by indigenous people), has chafed under Morales, who is the nation's first indigenous president, and has been socializing the economy and aggregating more power towards the state. The conflict is tinged with racial undertones, and the Washington Times article says that "[m]ilitancy in the east is increasingly laced with racist rhetoric against Andean Indians." The eastern region – wealthier and whiter – has never supported Morales' socialist designs for Bolivia, and the particular bone of contention at the moment are the riches of Bolivian natural gas, which Morales wants to funnel into social programs for indigenous Bolivians in the west. Militants from the east have blocked crucial energy pipelines out of the country, and Stratfor reports that there are rumors that the government has been using live ammunition against the protestors. Stratfor says there is a distinct possibility that a civil war will ensue. As is expected, Morales' buddy Chávez has supported the Bolivian government with military aid, but if the conflict gets much worse, it could be the first popular affront to Chávez's coterie of Latin American socialist elected authoritarians.

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