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Bolivia-The Rise of New Political Groups





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Bolivia Index

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Víctor Paz Estenssoro
Courtesy Embassy of Bolivia, Washington

After a few months under the provisional presidency of General Carlos Quintanilla Quiroga (1939-40), the chief of staff during the Busch regime, the government changed hands again. General Enrique Peñaranda Castillo (1940-43) was elected president in the spring of 1940. Peñaranda's support came from the traditional parties, the Liberals, and the two wings of the Republicans, who had formed a concordancia to stem the growth of the movement toward reform.

The trend toward reform, however, could not be halted, and a number of new groups gained control of the Congress during Peñaranda's presidency. These groups, although very different in their ideological outlooks, agreed on the need to change the status quo. They included the Trotskyite Revolutionary Workers Party (Partido Obrero Revolucionario--POR), which had already been formed in 1934, as well as the Bolivian Socialist Falange (Falange Socialista Boliviana--FSB), founded in 1937 and patterned on the Spanish model. The Leftist Revolutionary Party (Partido de Izquierda Revolucionaria--PIR) was founded in 1940 by a coalition of radical Marxist groups.

The most important opposition to the concordancia came from the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario--MNR). The first party with widespread support in Bolivian history, the MNR had a membership that included intellectuals and both white-collar and blue-collar workers. It was founded in 1941 by a small group of intellectual dissidents from the middle and upper classes and represented persons from a wide range of political persuasions who were united by their discontent with the status quo. Among its leaders were Víctor Paz Estenssoro, a professor of economics; Hernán Siles Zuazo, the son of former President Siles Reyes; and several influential writers. The party's program included nationalization of all of Bolivia's natural resources and far-reaching social reforms. Its antiSemitic statements resulted not only in the imprisonment of MNR leaders but also in charges by the United States government that MNR was under the influence of Nazi fascism.

As the leader of the congressional opposition, the MNR denounced Peñaranda's close cooperation with the United States and was especially critical of his agreement to compensate Standard Oil for its nationalized holdings. The MNR members of the Congress also began an investigation of the massacre of striking miners and their families by government troops at one of the Patiño mines in Catavi in 1942. MNR influence with the miners increased when Paz Estenssoro led the congressional interrogation of government ministers.

The MNR had contacts with reformist military officers, who were organized in a secret military lodge named the Fatherland's Cause (Razón de Patria--Radepa). Radepa was founded in 1934 by Bolivian prisoners of war in Paraguay. It sought mass support, backed military intervention in politics, and hoped to prevent excessive foreign control over Bolivia's natural resources.

In December 1943, the Radepa-MNR alliance overthrew the Peñaranda regime. Major Gualberto Villarroel López (1943-46) became president, and three MNR members, including Paz Estenssoro, joined his cabinet. The MNR ministers resigned, however, when the United States refused recognition, repeating its charge of ties between the MNR and Nazi Germany. The ministers returned to their posts in 1944, after the party had won a majority in the election and the United States had recognized the government. Villarroel's government emphasized continuity with the reformist regimes of Toro and Busch. Paz Estenssoro, who served as minister of finance, hoped to get popular support with a budget that emphasized social spending over economic development. But the salary increase for miners did not bring about their consistent backing of the government and only managed to strengthen the ties between the MNR and miners.

The Villarroel government also tried for the first time to get the support of the campesinos. In 1945 it created the National Indigenous Congress to discuss the problems in the countryside and to improve the situation of the peasants. However, most of the social legislation, such as the abolition of the labor obligation of the campesinos to their landlords, was never put in effect.

Villarroel was overthrown in 1946. He had been unable to organize popular support and faced opposition from conservative groups and increasing political terrorism that included murders of the government's opponents. Rivalry between the MNR and the military in the governing coalition also contributed to his downfall. In 1946 mobs of students, teachers, and workers seized arms from the arsenal and moved to the presidential palace. They captured and shot Villarroel and suspended his body from a lamppost in the main square, while the army remained aloof in the barracks.

Data as of December 1989



BackgroundBolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and countercoups. Democratic civilian rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production. In December 2005, Bolivians elected Movement Toward Socialism leader Evo MORALES president - by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule in 1982 - after he ran on a promise to change the country's traditional political class and empower the nation's poor, indigenous majority. However, since taking office, his controversial strategies have exacerbated racial and economic tensions between the Amerindian populations of the Andean west and the non-indigenous communities of the eastern lowlands. In December 2009, President MORALES easily won reelection, and his party took control of the legislative branch of the government, which will allow him to continue his process of change.
LocationCentral South America, southwest of Brazil
Area(sq km)total: 1,098,581 sq km
land: 1,083,301 sq km
water: 15,280 sq km
Geographic coordinates17 00 S, 65 00 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 6,940 km
border countries: Argentina 832 km, Brazil 3,423 km, Chile 860 km, Paraguay 750 km, Peru 1,075 km

Coastline(km)0 km (landlocked)

Climatevaries with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Rio Paraguay 90 m
highest point: Nevado Sajama 6,542 m
Natural resourcestin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 2.78%
permanent crops: 0.19%
other: 97.03% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)1,320 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)622.5 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 1.44 cu km/yr (13%/7%/81%)
per capita: 157 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsflooding in the northeast (March-April)
Environment - current issuesthe clearing of land for agricultural purposes and the international demand for tropical timber are contributing to deforestation; soil erosion from overgrazing and poor cultivation methods (including slash-and-burn agriculture); desertification; loss of biodiversity; industrial pollution of water supplies used for drinking and irrigation
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - notelandlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru
Population9,775,246 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 35.5% (male 1,767,310/female 1,701,744)
15-64 years: 60% (male 2,877,605/female 2,992,043)
65 years and over: 4.5% (male 193,196/female 243,348) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 21.9 years
male: 21.3 years
female: 22.6 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.772% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)25.82 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)7.05 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-1.05 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 66% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 44.66 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 48.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 40.57 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 66.89 years
male: 64.2 years
female: 69.72 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)3.17 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Bolivian(s)
adjective: Bolivian
Ethnic groups(%)Quechua 30%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, white 15%

Religions(%)Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist) 5%
Languages(%)Spanish 60.7% (official), Quechua 21.2% (official), Aymara 14.6% (official), foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2% (2001 census)

Country nameconventional long form: Plurinational State of Bolivia
conventional short form: Bolivia
local long form: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia
local short form: Bolivia
Government typerepublic; note - the new constitution defines Bolivia as a "Social Unitarian State"
Capitalname: La Paz (administrative capital)
geographic coordinates: 16 30 S, 68 09 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Sucre (constitutional capital)
Administrative divisions9 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Potosi, Santa Cruz, Tarija
Constitution7-Feb-09

Legal systembased on Spanish law and Napoleonic Code; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; the 2009 Constitution incorporates indigenous community justice into Bolivia's judicial system

Suffrage18 years of age, universal and compulsory (married); 21 years of age, universal and compulsory (single)
Executive branchchief of state: President Juan Evo MORALES Ayma (since 22 January 2006); Vice President Alvaro GARCIA Linera (since 22 January 2006); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Juan Evo MORALES Ayma (since 22 January 2006); Vice President Alvaro GARCIA Linera (since 22 January 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held 6 December 2009 (next to be held in 2014); note - per the new constitution, presidents can serve for a total of two consecutive terms
election results: Juan Evo MORALES Ayma elected president; percent of vote - Juan Evo MORALES Ayma 64%; Manfred REYES VILLA 26%; Samuel DORIA MEDINA Arana 6%; Rene JOAQUINO 2%; other 2%

Legislative branchbicameral Plurinational Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional consists of Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (36 seats; members are elected by proportional representation from party lists to serve five-year terms) and Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (130 seats; 76 members are directly elected from their districts [7 or 8 of these are chosen from indigenous districts] and 54 are elected by proportional representation from party lists to serve five-year terms).
elections: Chamber of Senators and Chamber of Deputies - last held 6 December 2009 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - MAS 26, PPB-CN 10; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - MAS 89, PPB-CN 36, UN 3, AS 2

Judicial branchSupreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges elected by popular vote from list of candidates pre-selected by Assembly for six-year terms); District Courts (one in each department); Plurinational Constitutional Court (five primary or titulares and five alternate or suplente magistrates elected by popular vote from list of candidates pre-selected by Assembly for six-year terms; to rule on constitutional issues); Plurinational Electoral Organ (seven members elected by the Assembly and the president; one member must be of indigenous origin to six-year terms); Agro-Environmental Court (judges elected by popular vote from list of candidates pre-selected by Assembly for six-year terms; to run on agro-environmental issues); provincial and local courts (to try minor cases)

Political pressure groups and leadersBolivian Workers Central or COR; Federation of Neighborhood Councils of El Alto or FEJUVE; Landless Movement or MST; National Coordinator for Change or CONALCAM; Sole Confederation of Campesino Workers of Bolivia or CSUTCB
other: Cocalero groups; indigenous organizations (including Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Bolivia or CIDOB and National Council of Ayullus and Markas of Quollasuyu or CONAMAQ); labor unions (including the Central Bolivian Workers' Union or COB and Cooperative Miners Federation or FENCOMIN)
International organization participationCAN, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionthree equal horizontal bands of red (top), yellow, and green with the coat of arms centered on the yellow band
note: similar to the flag of Ghana, which has a large black five-pointed star centered in the yellow band; in 2009, a presidential decree made it mandatory for a so-called wiphala - a square, multi-colored flag representing the country's indigenous peoples - to be used alongside the traditional flag

Economy - overviewBolivia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America. Following a disastrous economic crisis during the early 1980s, reforms spurred private investment, stimulated economic growth, and cut poverty rates in the 1990s. The period 2003-05 was characterized by political instability, racial tensions, and violent protests against plans - subsequently abandoned - to export Bolivia's newly discovered natural gas reserves to large northern hemisphere markets. In 2005, the government passed a controversial hydrocarbons law that imposed significantly higher royalties and required foreign firms then operating under risk-sharing contracts to surrender all production to the state energy company. In early 2008, higher earnings for mining and hydrocarbons exports pushed the current account surplus to 9.4% of GDP and the government's higher tax take produced a fiscal surplus after years of large deficits. Private investment as a share of GDP, however, remains among the lowest in Latin America, and inflation remained at double-digit levels in 2008. The decline in commodity prices in late 2008, the lack of foreign investment in the mining and hydrocarbon sectors, and the suspension of trade benefits with the United States will pose challenges for the Bolivian economy in 2009.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$43.38 billion (2008 est.)
$40.88 billion (2007 est.)
$39.08 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$16.6 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6.1% (2008 est.)
4.6% (2007 est.)
4.8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$4,500 (2008 est.)
$4,300 (2007 est.)
$4,200 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 11.3%
industry: 36.9%
services: 51.8% (2008 est.)
Labor force4.454 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 40%
industry: 17%
services: 43% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)7.5% (2008 est.)
7.5% (2007 est.)
note: data are for urban areas; widespread underemployment
Population below poverty line(%)60% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 0.5%
highest 10%: 44.1% (2005)
Distribution of family income - Gini index59.2 (2006)
44.7 (1999)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)18% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $8.039 billion
expenditures: $7.5 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)14% (2008 est.)
8.7% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$3.998 billion (31 December 2008)
$3.032 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$6.339 billion (31 December 2008)
$4.729 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$5.433 billion (31 December 2008)
$4.759 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA (31 December 2008)
$2.263 billion (31 December 2007)
$2.223 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$582.9 million (2005 est.)

Public debt(% of GDP)45.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
46.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - productssoybeans, coffee, coca, cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes; timber
Industriesmining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing

Industrial production growth rate(%)10.6% (2008 est.)

Current account balance$2.015 billion (2008 est.)
$1.984 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$6.448 billion (2008 est.)
$4.49 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)natural gas, soybeans and soy products, crude petroleum, zinc ore, tin
Exports - partners(%)Brazil 60.1%, US 8.3%, Japan 4.1% (2008)
Imports$4.641 billion (2008 est.)
$3.24 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)petroleum products, plastics, paper, aircraft and aircraft parts, prepared foods, automobiles, insecticides, soybeans
Imports - partners(%)Brazil 26.7%, Argentina 16.3%, US 10.5%, Chile 9.5%, Peru 7.1%, China 4.8% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$7.722 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$5.318 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$5.931 billion (31 December 2008)
$5.385 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$5.998 billion (31 December 2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesbolivianos (BOB) per US dollar - 7.253 (2008 est.), 7.8616 (2007), 8.0159 (2006), 8.0661 (2005), 7.9363 (2004)

Currency (code)boliviano (BOB)

Telephones - main lines in use690,000 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular4.83 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: privatization begun in 1995; reliability has steadily improved; new subscribers face bureaucratic difficulties; most telephones are concentrated in La Paz and other cities; mobile-cellular telephone use expanding rapidly; fixed-line teledensity of 7 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density slighly exceeds 50 per 100 persons
domestic: primary trunk system, which is being expanded, employs digital microwave radio relay; some areas are served by fiber-optic cable; mobile cellular systems are being expanded
international: country code - 591; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Internet country code.bo
Internet users1 million (2008)
Airports952 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 4,883 km; liquid petroleum gas 47 km; oil 2,475 km; refined products 1,589 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 62,479 km
paved: 3,749 km
unpaved: 58,730 km (2004)

Ports and terminalsPuerto Aguirre (inland port on the Paraguay/Parana waterway at the Bolivia/Brazil border); Bolivia has free port privileges in maritime ports in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay
Military branchesBolivian Armed Forces: Bolivian Army (Ejercito Boliviano, EB), Bolivian Navy (Fuerza Naval Boliviana, FNB; includes marines), Bolivian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Boliviana, FAB) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-49 years of age for 12-month compulsory military service; when annual number of volunteers falls short of goal, compulsory recruitment is effected, including conscription of boys as young as 14; 15-19 years of age for voluntary premilitary service, provides exemption from further military service (2009)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,295,746
females age 16-49: 2,366,828 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,666,697
females age 16-49: 1,906,396 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 108,304
female: 104,882 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)1.9% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalChile and Peru rebuff Bolivia's reactivated claim to restore the Atacama corridor, ceded to Chile in 1884, but Chile offers instead unrestricted but not sovereign maritime access through Chile for Bolivian natural gas and other commodities; an accord placed the long-disputed Isla Suarez/Ilha de Guajara-Mirim, a fluvial island on the Rio Mamore, under Bolivian administration in 1958, but sovereignty remains in dispute

Electricity - production(kWh)5.495 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 44.4%
hydro: 54%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.5% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)4.665 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)51,360 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)60,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)10,950 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)6,172 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)465 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)14.2 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)2.41 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)11.79 billion cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)750.4 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.2% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS8,100 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 500 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.7%
male: 93.1%
female: 80.7% (2001 census)

Education expenditures(% of GDP)6.4% of GDP (2003)








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