Bolivia: Political and Economic Developments and Relations with the United States
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Bolivia has experienced a period of political volatility with the country having six presidents since 2001. Evo Morales, an indigenous leader and head of Bolivias coca growers union, and his party, the leftist Movement Toward Socialism MAS, won a convincing victory in the December 18, 2005, presidential election with 54 of the votes. Early in his term, President Morales moved to fulfill his campaign promises to decriminalize coca cultivation, nationalize the countrys natural gas industry, and enact land reform. Those policies pleased his supporters, but complicated Bolivias relations with foreign investors and the United States. Since President Morales took office, Bolivians have become increasingly divided over the issues of constitutional reform and regional autonomy. A constitutional reform process began in mid-2006 and concluded in late 2007 when the Constituent Assembly CA passed a draft constitution without the presence of opposition delegates. Efforts by the Catholic Church, the Organization of American States OAS, and neighboring governments have failed to ease tensions over the reform process between the MAS government in La Paz and the opposition. Whereas plans for a national referendum on constitutional reforms have stalled, four departmental referendums on autonomy have been held, despite the lack of congressional approval for them to be convened. A national recall referendum is scheduled for August 10, 2008 on whether President Morales, the vice president, and the prefects departmental governors should remain in office.
- Government and Political Science