Bolivia. Unrest in the labor market gained momentum in
January, when the central organization Central Obrera
Boliviana (COB) announced a 24-hour general strike aimed at
the government's austerity policy. Hundreds of workers and
peasants were arrested following clashes with police.
At the same time, the government's efforts were met to
prompt the coca growers to move to other crops with hunger
strikes and demonstrations. A group of female cocoa growers
marched from the Chapare region to La Paz. A second
month-long general strike in the spring focused on the sale
of the country's eastern railway to a Chilean company. For
two weeks in the fall, La Paz was paralyzed by new strikes
and demonstrations, involving over 20,000 Indians. The
actions ceased in early October, after the government
reached an agreement with Native American leaders on
comprehensive land reform.
Countryaah.com, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) disbursed loans
granted to Bolivia during the previous year. In mid-May,
President Gonzálo Sánchez de Lozada visited Sweden and had
discussions with Prime Minister Göran Persson to elicit
support in the fight against drugs.
1997 Bánzer back in power
At the June elections, ADN with 22% of the votes was the
largest party followed by MNR, MIR, UCS and Conciencia de
Patria respectively. 18, 17, 16 and 16% of the vote.
Parliamentary negotiations over the appointment of ADN
leader Hugo Banzer to new president were made more difficult
by the significant party fragmentation.
The 100 Coca farmers' associations signed an agreement in
August with the government to voluntarily reduce cocoa
production to meet US demands, which in turn promised
Bolivia $ 40 million to combat drug trafficking. In January
1999, Washington acknowledged that the plan had been
successful and that Bolivian coca production had been
reduced by 50%.
At the beginning of 1998, the Bánzer government ran into
serious difficulties as the COB succeeded in bringing
together a broad front aimed at the government consisting
not only of workers but also of retailers, farmers, coca
farmers and pensioners. The government had suspended the
payment of Bonosol - a vital pension contribution to older
people over 65, which had been introduced by the Sánchez de
Losada government for the funds that had gone into the
privatization of 6 large public companies. The MRC warned
that the agreement between the government and the private
pension companies' cooperation, AFP, to no longer pay the
pension could lead to a social explosion. The COB's efforts
to curb Banzer's policy continued to be successful in 1999,
but internal divisions at the beginning of 2000 weakened the
COB and the front.
In the December 1999 local elections, Banzer's party,
ADN, came in third with 13% of the vote. MNR got 19.7%
followed by MIR with 14.7%. Yet, the government's alliance
retained power in all the major cities. While 73-year-old
Banzer was in the United States for health reasons, his vice
president Jorge Quiroga demanded increased support from
Washington for the eradication of illegal coca plantations.
The government believed that after it had eradicated
three-quarters of the coca plantations, it was the United
States' turn to fulfill its part of the deal through funding
new crops among the former coca farmers.
According to the human rights organization Human Rights
Watch, the drug barons have widespread influence within the
government, parliament, the judiciary, the military, the
police, the political parties and other public institutions.
Drug trafficking prevents Bolivia from developing a public
life within the framework of a legal community. The
explosive growth in the production of coca in Bolivia over
the past 20 years is due to according. human rights
organization the rising demand for cocaine in the United
In August 2001, Quiroga replaces President Hugo Banzer,
who is ill with cancer.
The plan to eradicate the coca plant encounters new
obstacles, and in December, farmers reject a government
offer of $ 900 annually in compensation per family member
for not planting coca. That same month, farmer leader
Casimiro Huanca dies after being shot by police trying to
dissolve a meeting of coca growers at their association's
During 1997-2002, Bolivia has become the world's most
successful tropical forest certification country. This opens
new markets for Bolivian timber in Europe and the United
States. The low extra price of the certified tree can
according to. However, analysts are becoming a serious
obstacle to the spread of the system and thus the protection
of biodiversity in the tropical rainforests.
At the June 2002 presidential election, Sánchez de Lozada
received 22.46% of the vote, while Native American leader
Evo Morales, who also led the coca farmers, received 20.94%.
Since none of them can get an absolute majority, Congress in
August decides to appoint Sánchez de Lozada as president. De
Lozada has been accused by Morales supporters of having
"sold the land" as part of the privatizations during his
first presidential term. Upon his accession, he calls on the
country's various political factions for cooperation.