Bolivia’s Crisis, Latin America’s Failure

Bolivia is not a typical Latin American country by any definition. But for Haiti, it is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and it is even less stable, with a history of more than two hundred coups since independence.

In a region with a strong indigenous past but a scattered and isolated present, Bolivia is, alongside Guatemala, perhaps the only country in Latin America where indigenous peoples make up a majority of the population. Its topography and ethnic distribution are generating autonomist and even secessionist forces that threaten national unity in more menacing ways than anywhere else. And, of course, it is, with Paraguay, the only land-locked nation on the sub-continent.

So it would be highly imprudent to extrapolate Bolivia’s current crisis to the rest of Latin America. It is far too simple to generalize: institutions elsewhere are much stronger, poverty – and particularly extreme poverty – have been diminishing, and the battle over natural resources has been largely settled. Even in places like Venezuela, with both huge oil reserves and a traditional-minded nationalist government, the status quo allowing for foreign investment in energy resources has survived nearly eight years of President Hugo Chavez.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/rAUOilu;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.