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Articles on this Page
- 11/17/16--05:03: _Referendum November...
- 11/20/16--15:32: _Conceptual Context ...
- 11/23/16--08:42: _Bolivia's Democrati...
- 12/12/16--01:11: _Regional Trade Grou...
- 01/23/17--11:46: _Morales' New Cabinet
- 01/26/17--15:33: _The Meaning of a Tr...
- 05/11/17--09:44: _Sustainable Develop...
- 06/09/17--04:16: _Bolivia's UN Securi...
- 10/29/17--06:34: _Summary: The Bolivi...
- 10/30/17--06:17: _The Re-election Iss...
- 11/30/17--05:10: _Evo Morales, Allowe...
- 12/04/17--03:50: _Elections of Higher...
- 12/06/17--14:39: _Bolivia Elects New ...
- 01/16/18--00:35: _Freedom House 2018 ...
- 01/17/18--08:09: _Foreign Policy: The...
- 01/24/18--01:24: _New Cabinet 2018
- 03/23/18--09:41: _Bolivia's Dispute w...
- 11/23/16--08:42: Bolivia's Democratic Evolution
- 12/12/16--01:11: Regional Trade Groups - Where is Bolivia a Member?
- 01/23/17--11:46: Morales' New Cabinet
- Fernando Huanacuni Mamani- Canciller de Bolivia (Minister of Exterior)
- René Martínez Callahuanca- Ministro de la Presidencia (Ministry of the Presidency)
- Carlos Romero - Ministro de Gobierno (Ministry of Government) (ratified)
- Reymi Ferreira - Ministro de Defensa (Ministry of Defense) (ratified)
- Mariana Prado Noya - Ministra de Planificación del Desarrollo (Ministry of Planning and Development)
- Luis Alberto Arce Catacora - Ministro de Economía y Finanzas Públicas (Ministry of Economy and Public Finances) (ratified)
- Luis Alberto Sánchez Fernández - Ministro de Hidrocarburos (Ministry of Hydrocarbons) (ratified)
- Eugenio Rojas - Ministro de Desarrollo Plural Productivo (Ministry of Plural Productive Development)
- Milton Claros Hinojosa - Ministro de Obras Públicas y Servicios y Vivienda (Ministry of Public Works, Services and Housing) (ratified)
- Félix Cesar Navarro - Ministro de Minería y Metalurgia (Ministry of Mining (ratified)
- Héctor Arce Zaconeta - Ministro de Justicia (Ministry of Justice)
- Hector Hinojosa Rodríguez - Ministro de Trabajo, Empleo y Previsión Social (Ministry of Work, Employment and Social Security)
- Ariana Campero Nava - Ministra de Salud (Ministry of Health) (ratified)
- Carlos Ortuño Yañez - Ministro de Medioambiente y Agua (Ministry of Environment and Water)
- Roberto Iván Aguilar Gómez - Ministro Educación (Ministry of Education) (ratified)
- César Cocarico Yana - Ministro de Desarrollo Rural y Tierras (Ministry of Rural Development and Lands) (ratified)
- Vilma Alanoca - Ministra de Cultura y Turismo (Ministry of Culture and Tourism)
- Gísela López - Ministra de Comunicación (Ministry of Communication)
- Tito Rolando Montaño - Ministro de Deportes (Ministry of Sports (ratified)
- Rafael Alarcón – Ministro de Energías (Ministry of Energy)
- 01/26/17--15:33: The Meaning of a Trump Government for Latin America
- 05/11/17--09:44: Sustainable Development Goals: Bolivia's Development
- 06/09/17--04:16: Bolivia's UN Security Countil Presidency
- 10/29/17--06:34: Summary: The Bolivian economy 2016 to 2017
- 10/30/17--06:17: The Re-election Issue Comes Back to Hunt Bolivia
- 11/30/17--05:10: Evo Morales, Allowed to Run Again for the Presidency
- 12/04/17--03:50: Elections of Higher Post in the Judicial Branch
- 12/06/17--14:39: Bolivia Elects New Justices of Higher Courts
- 01/16/18--00:35: Freedom House 2018 Report on Freedom in the World and Bolivia
- 01/17/18--08:09: Foreign Policy: The US's Approach to Latin America
- 01/24/18--01:24: New Cabinet 2018
- 03/23/18--09:41: Bolivia's Dispute with Chile at the Hage
|Source: Bolivian Electoral Organ (oep.org-bo)|
On Sunday, November 20, 2016 Bolivia will for a second time in one year go back to the ballot boxes to cast votes for yet another approval referendum (plebiscite). This time around the people will be asked to approve or reject the regional or local constitutions, which have been in formulation since the process to obtain autonomy began in 2010.
Fifteen "territorial entities", as the different governmental levels are known in Bolivia, will be asking their inhabitants whether the regional and local constitutions they have written are good to go or not.
A breakdown of these looks as follows:
So called Organic Charters, which are the fundamental laws for municipalities, will be voted on in the municipalities of Viacha (La Paz); Totora, Arque, Vinto (Cochabamba); Sucre (Chuquisaca) and El Torno, El Puente, Buena Vista, Yapacaní and Cuatro Cañadas (Santa Cruz).
In Uru Chipaya (Oruro), Mojocoya (Chuquisaca) and Raqaypampa (Cochabamba) the vote will be over the so called originary/campesino/indigenous statutes, which would be the equivalent of constitutions for these type of territorial autonomy. In similar terms, Gran Chaco (Tarija) will be submitting its statute for approval. This would be a so called regional autonomy. Finally, the Gutiérrez municipality (Santa Cruz) will be asking its inhabitants whether they want to go down the road of an indigenous/origins/campesino autonomy.
The Bolivia autonomic process
The process of obtaining autonomy in Bolivia has been complicated. According to the law, there are four ways in which territorial entities can become autonomous: Departmental, Municipal, Regional and indigenous/originary/campesino.
Departmental autonomy is the equivalent to a state government in the US or a laender in Germany. Many times these are also labeled regions, but in Bolivia this distinctions has been important because of this reason. Municipal autonomy is just that, municipalities. One has however to remember that a municipality can cover an entire large city or a territory larger that the city. That depends on the number of inhabitants in that municipality. Regional autonomy, instead, are particular regions within a departamento. They cannot go over its boundaries. In Bolivia, the Chaco region is a particularly distinct region, hence its seeking autonomy. In contrast to the latter types of territorial autonomy, the indigenous/originary/campesino have been difficult to define. In the law they are not defined. After all, how to define territory on ethnic or identity basis without crossing many artificially created territorial units such as states or municipalities? However, in the particular case of Bolivia, these territories have come to be defined as the equivalent to municipalities. The difference is on the attributions and responsibilities each form has. To cut a long explanation short, the municipalities are the type of entities that have the most responsibilities and therefore the most financing. The other forms of autonomy have to do with ethnicity and identity and with tradition.
Lastly, the referenda are the last step of a long process, through which the formulation of such documents had to be written by officials, presented to the population through countless events, revised, voted on in the respective assemblies, checked by the national government for its conformity with the 2009 Bolivian Constitution to then ask the citizens whether they also approved it or not.
This piece should have been published in a Routledge-sponsored "encyclopedia of democracy and democratization". But since the publication fell off the ground (I do not know why) and I had already written the article on waves of democracy, I am publishing it here. Enjoy! Please, do not forget to cite me.
Furthermore, other scholars argue a fourth wave is under way. With this scholars refer to the events beginning in 2011 known as the Arab Spring, albeit this wave having not produced as many stable democracies as one might expect in a wave. The argument highlights the differences in types of regimes and the time in which these events took place. In addition, other arguments have been proposed following this logic which introduces further waves at distinct points in time. This debate, to this day, has not been resolved, and it will continue until a clear pattern of reversals can be observed which would signal the clear end of the third wave of democratization.
I might as well publish this other article which was also to be published in the failed Sage encyclopedia of democracy and democratization. Once again, enjoy.
These are four images from the newly released World Trade Report from the WTO. The images show a complete list of regional trade blocks around the world. They also show where Bolivia is engaged and where not.
|Source: World Trade Report 2016|
|Source: ABI, Jose Lirauze|
|Source: ABI, Jose Lirauze|
The following list is the new Cabinet.
On November 12, 2016 I wrote about what a #Trump government would mean for the Latin American region and Bolivia. In that post, I highlighted the many measures affecting the region that Mr. Trump wanted to implement in the first 100 days after he took office. I also mentioned that it was important to know who his collaborators in the cabinet would be, and in the government positions below the cabinet level. Some days after Mr. Trump's inauguration as @POTUS and some weeks after the beginning of the confirmation process of Mr. Trump's cabinet, we have more facts on which to rely on, to be able to look ahead on the shape of the #US-Latin American relationship.
For instance, we can look at Rex Tillerson's (former CEO of Exxon Mobile) confirmation process for Secretary of State. Mr. Tillerson's confirmation vote is scheduled to happen next week, but his ongoing testimony and prior record has opened a window on his beliefs and, perhaps, on his future behavior. One emerging fact is that such scrutiny on Mr. Tillerson's views is revealing important differences with Mr. Trump's views. Examples are, his views on Putin's oppressive or totalitarian tendencies or views on the existence of climate change.
As far as Latin America is concerned, Mr. Tillerson's experience with the region can be characterized as direct. In fact, as Exxon-Mobile's CEO, he has had the necessity, if not the obligation, to think about the relationship of that company with many governments of that region.
One such government has been that of Mexico. In contrast to Mr. Trump's words about reconsidering NAFTA and Mexican immigrants being "rapist" and "criminals", Mr. Tillerson once said that the economies of US, Mexico and Canada were interwoven because of the NAFTA deal. It is understandable, that he would want more cooperation between the two nations and, specially, between two of the largest oil companies in the world, namely Exxon and Pemex. Further, he considered the trade deal a productive, job-creating, mutually-beneficial deal for the US and Mexico. In fact, in his confirmation hearings, Mr. Tiller described Mexicans as trusting friends, on whom the US could rely on.
In contrast, his relationship with Venezuela could not be considered as positive. First of all, as Mr. Hugo Chavez nationalized Exxon's assets in 2007, as part of his "Bolivarian Revolution", he had no choice as to take the Venezuelan government to court. However, the result of that process was a $ 1.6 billion award in favor of Exxon Mobile, when the estimated cost should have been $ 15 Billion. In conclusion, Mr. Tiller could not have been happy with this outcome. In similar manner, in 2015/2016, Exxon made a discovery of oil reserves on the Essequibo river, which lies in a disputed border area between Guyana and Venezuela. That has also become a disputed issue between the Venezuelan government and the Exxon Mobile company. The larger interpretation of these issues is, that Mr. Tiller has already plenty of experience with dealing with Latino caudillos such as Mr. Chavez.
Finally, Mr. Tiller's words concerning Colombian and Cuba were also interpreted having a certain distance with what Mr. Trump said. According to his comments, for Mr. Tiller, Colombia is a successful partner in the war against drugs and deserves continued aid support. Especially on the plan Peace Colombian, which is yet to pass in Congress and aims at continuing supporting the peace efforts the current government is engaged in. As for Cuba, he recently mentioned that if he were to appointed, he would take a careful look at the current policies towards Cuba.
Another figure is Ret. Gen. John F. Kelly, newly appointed head of Home Land Security. Gen. Kelly (a.k.a. mad dog Kelly) has been the head of the US Southern Command between 2012 and 2015. In such as post, he was intimately linked with, at least, the military side of the North American policy towards the Latin American region. As such, he oversaw the all important war on drugs, and other measures to deal with illegal migration, crime an, to a larger extent, security.
For instance, he repeatedly highlighted the activities of Hezbollah terrorist cells within Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, as well as Venezuela. He also mentioned the possible threat it would mean for the US of increasing the Chinese military in the region. At the same time, he highlighted the importance of continued support of the Colombian peace process and fight against drug trafficking. Furthermore, he argued for a continued support of those efforts beyond Colombia, highlighting the willingness of Peru to work with the US against such a threat. According to the New York Times, he has supported for: "He has supported increased aid for economic development, education and a focus on human rights to combat unauthorized immigration and drug trafficking."
Another important figure should be Robert Lighthizer, nominated for heading the US Trade Representative Office. Mr. Lighthizer, however, has been a known figure in Wasington, DC and therefore his tendencies are more or less easy to discern. His tendency to protectionism and his criticism towards NAFTA and other free trade agreements are well documented in the public record. His approach can be summarized as blaming the free trade agreements sought by the US government so far as being too generous to outside partners and not careful enough to keep benefits for the US. He has been know to criticize, among others, Latin American nations as not holding up to the standards of trade agreed upon and unfairly benefiting from the agreements in place. He is widely expected to carry out Mr. Trump's policies towards the region without hesitance.
Lastly, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, suggested by Mr. Trump to head the Energy Department. This is the same department which Mr. Perry said he wanted to eliminate during his candidacy campaign during the republican primaries in 2011. Mr. Perry, as Texas governor is intimately familiar with the immigration issues with Mexico. Moreover, since a large part of those people who enter illegally the US through the Mexico border are not Mexicans, but Latin Americans and even Africans, he should have a highly differentiated knowledge of the problem. However, his comments tend to confirm that he will pursue Mr. Trump's policy without any criticism. That is, if he does not reveal any new views on the matter on the remaining confirmation session.
This measurement, which looks at some 17 categories, to rank countries on a four quarter scale of low income, lower middle income, upper middle income and high income pretends to measure the stage of development a country finds itself at a certain time, in this case, it would be 2017. The categories are listed below for your information. They have been extracted from the document, hopefully with the good will of the WB.
|“World Bank. 2017. Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2017 : From World Development Indicators. World Bank Atlas;. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/26306 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”|
If you want specific information on a country, I suggest you go directly to the WB's data site. To get information on a specific country through the report is a bit difficult. You will have to read the whole report. If you have time, by all means, do it.
My own impression on Bolivia is the country has been accumulating a positive record on many of the SDGs goals. This is most notably in the areas of poverty, hunger, health, well-being, education, gender equality, clean water, and sanitation as well as clean energy. The critic on this positive development has been the marginality of the improvement versus the available resources ($$$).
In other areas, especially on institutions (justice, government, civil society), sustainability of cities and of economic development, as well as action on climate issues, the country's development has been more than questionable, measured with the SDGs tools.
Overall, an interesting read. Enjoy.
On the first of June this year, Bolivia took the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the duration of one month. During this time, Bolivia will seek to continue pressing the world on paying attention to issues such as peace, weapons proliferation, and the right to access water around the world.
Bolivia has been a UN member since 1945, and having been a member of the UNSC in two occasions already, from 1964 to 1965 and from 1978 to 1979, it currently finds itself in its third time in this exclusive club, from 2017 to 2018. In the course of these memberships, Bolivia has held the council's presidency five times prior to June 2017, that is in January and December 1964, in November 1965, in June 1978, and in November 1979.
This time around, the issues Bolivia seeks to bring to the councils agenda are: preventive diplomacy and transboundary water, explosive hazards, international peace and security, terror acts, peace building and sustainable peace, peace keeping missions, issues on Cote de Ivore and Palestine, and Haiti.
If you want to follow the work of Bolivia in the Security Council, you can visit the Security Council's website.
Evo Morales will be able to run again in 2019 for an unprecedented fourth presidential term. That is how the opposing political forces are interpreting the constitutional court's finding regarding a "Abstract recourse of unconstitutionality" submitted by MAS' congress men and women to the court in September 2017. The decision has triggered sharp reactions from the opposition and many spontaneous demonstrations condemning it in major cities such as La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. The government has shown itself pleased with the decision and so have the political forces supporting Morales' re-election.
The decision involves the nullification of all the articles within the 2009 constitution, and the subsequent change of the electoral law, which set limits to the terms higher public officials have once elected to office. In the case of the president, the vice president, governors and assembly members, the term was five years with the possibility for re-election of two consecutive times. These limits are now nullified and the result is that a president or governor can run for office indefinitely.
The reaction on the streets has been widespread. Hours after the announcement of the decision by the court's president, people gathered around the government buildings of major regional capital cities. In La Paz, protesters encountered police resistance which provoked clashes, but no serious violence. In contrast, in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba groups of mainly young protesters proceeded to enter government buildings to which police forces responded firmly and aggressively. In Santa Cruz there were even some reports of arrests and in Cochabamba the press reported the use of rubber bullets. However, the reaction has been largely moderate, with opposition leaders making alarming comments as to the beginning of the end for the Bolivian democratic process and the government ignoring the decision made by the population in the
On its part, the government reacted calmly. Evo Morales praised the decision and highlighted its contribution to political stability and the continuation of the process of change. He also reminded the people that not only he and the vice president would benefit from such decision but every Bolivian who wants to run of any public office. In that respect, beneficiaries are also governors, mayors, assembly members and so on. Similar was the reaction of many government officials and of many social movement leaders, who praised the decision as a significant contribution to democracy and not against it.
Another political fallout is the call by the opposition to nullify the vote in the so called "judicial elections" on Sunday, December 3. On this day, Bolivians will be electing judges to the most important courts in the country, including the supreme court and the constitutional court. The opposition has been promoting the nullified vote and now this strategy might have a real chance to succeed. Meanwhile, the government has been campaigning against such strategy. After all, if people vote null in significant numbers, this time around, it will be interpreted as a vote against the re-election of Evo Morales. That is what the government wants to avoid at all costs.
Moreover, in a somewhat unusual move, the US government has issued a statement urging Evo Morales to desist running in 2019 and to remember the results of the February 21, 2016 referendum when the no to allowing Morales to run again won by 51.3%. The short statement states: "The United States is deeply concerned by the November 28 ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal of Bolivia to declare inapplicable provisions of the country’s constitution that prohibit elected officials, including the President, from serving more than two consecutive terms. The decision disregards the will of the Bolivian people as confirmed in recent referendum"
At the same time, Luis Almagro, OAS Secretary General, also criticized the court's finding calling it inaccurately interpreted. In similar terms, several political personalities, Carlos Mesa, Jorge Quiroga,Victor Hugo Cárdenas, current Governor of Santa Cruz, Rubén Costas and Unidad Nacional's leader, Samuel Doria Medina, jointly expressed their rejection of the decision and announced the construction of a "real alternative" political force for the coming general elections in 2019.
In the end, the implications of such decision are manifold. To start of, the 2009 constitution has been reformed. The phrase expressing the term limits "por una sola vez de manera continua" (something like, for one time and in continued manner) will have to be removed, not only from the constitution but also from the electoral law. Now, some doubts arise in regards of the reform process. Will this reform be total or partial? Article 411 of the same constitution stipulates there are two types of reform. Total reform, which concerns the fundamental ideas within it, such as rights, responsibilities and guarantees, will have to be carried out by a constitutional assembly. A partial reform, which remains undefined, will have to be carried out through a reform law issued by the Bolivian Assembly (both lower and upper houses), which will have to be approved by a referendum.
A more immediate reaction might be on the results of Sunday's judicial elections, as mentioned above. On December 3, Bolivians will vote to elect new judges for the various courts, among them the Supreme and the Constitutional courts. This decision might provide support for the opposition's null vote strategy to undermine the government's work. That is certainly a possibility.
Another consequence will be the re-election of Evo Morales. Morales has repeatedly said he leaves this decision to the Bolivian peoples. In this case, the people has spoken through the initiative to submit this petition to the constitutional court. In fact, this decision was one of four paths MAS supporters decided to follow in a meeting back in December 2016. Now that the decision to allow Morales and other heads of sub national governments to run again has been made, Morales intends to follow through with his intention to run again. Of course, the opposition sees Morales' decision to run once again as his intention to stay in power indefinitely. Morales, of course, denies this claim. Fact is, he (and other politicians) can run again for a fourth term. Fact is also, that he will still have to be elected by the popular vote.
Well, now some skeptics will say now, Morales controls government, the assembly and the electoral court and therefore he is bound to win the next elections. Others will claim he will manipulate those elections. Some commentators have already advanced this claim. However, one thing that makes me stop before I join this line of opinion is the fact that previous elections have been observed by international organizations such as the EU and the Carter Center and the reports have largely been positive calling those electoral processes free.
One worrying consequence might be that a political crisis might be brewing in Bolivia. People who have supported the no vote in the 2016 referendum feel very angry. In fact, most people who voted for the no must be feeling angry as well. After all, the no won. These people believed the electorate or "the people" have spoken and that was it. They do not perceive the "people" as the sovereign for no reason. They think the "people" has the last word. The question is, what will these people are willing to do now that their work and wish have been in vain. The potential for an escalation of events is there. If you saw the images in Santa Cruz or Cochabamba, you must have heard some of those people calling for resistance, even violent resistance. That is worrying.
On Sunday, December 3, 2017, Bolivians headed once again to the ballot boxes to elect the members of higher courts. There are four instances to elect members of: the Tribunal Agroambiental (Agro-environment Tribunal), Consejo de la Magistratura (Magistrates Council - regulates and controls the judicial branch), Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (Supreme Court), and the Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional (Constitutional Court).
This is the second time such elections happen since the 2009 Constitution. The first time, in 2011, the process was qualified as normal. That meant, people went to vote, issued their votes and results were counted and new justices were elected. Yesterday's process was, to a large extent, "normal", with the exception that the number of blank and null votes exceeds 50%.
The reason for that is the decision of the outgoing Constitutional Tribunal that allows Evo Morales to run for an unprecedented fourth presidential term. Mas supporters submitted a petition to basically declare many articles in the 2009 constitution unconstitutional because they violated the political rights (ergo human rights) of anyone who wanted to run for office. The legal bases were the articles in an international piece of legislation that seeks to guarantee these rights. For more on that please read prior posts.
The result of that decision to accept the argument presented by the MAS was that Mr. Morales can (and will) run again for office in 2019. As you know, in presidential systems there is a long-standing belief sufficiently grounded by the founding fathers of the USA that presidents tend to want to perpetuate themselves in office. In these systems, the fact that a president seeks to stay in office more than what is allowed is seen as suspect. There is a very present association with authoritarian regimes, if not dictatorships.
In any case, the elections happened and now the electoral court is busy counting the votes of the people. Preliminary counts, what Bolivians call rapid count, already tell us that the blank and null votes are leading the way. As this video from the latest report tell us. It is from the electoral court, at 81% of all the precincts counted at 9:44 pm.
Source: Results at 80,7% count. Preliminary report from the TSE. https://youtu.be/zjJ7L_Z7Jk8 (December 3, Red Uno, 21:44 Hrs.)
For the Agro-environmental court the null and blank votes are 52 and 14 percent respectively. In similar terms, 52 and 16 percent of voters chose to vote null and blank, respectively, when it came to the Council of Magistrates. These two sets of numbers came out after 97 percent of precincts were counted. Alternatively, the results for the supreme and constitutional courts are reported by department. In that manner, the average of null and blank votes on the nine departments is 48 and 17 percent respectively at the national level. The average of precincts counted is almost 99 percent.
Freedom in the World 2018
|Freedom House Website|
With an alarming tone titles Freedom House its latest report on freedom in the world, Democracy in Crisis. Indeed, the authors of the report paint a dramatic picture of the world where democracy is under attack or on the decline. They write that political rights and civil liberties, the core values of the freedom in the world scores have been deteriorating around the world. Further, they say 2017 has been the 12th consecutive year democracy has been on decline, and that during this period 113 countries have suffered net declines while only 62 have experienced a net improvement.
Among the Latin American countries with the largest declines in the last 10 years are: Venezuela with -21, Nicaragua with -20, Honduras with -15, Dominican Republic with -13, and Mexico with -11. Especially dramaticly depicted is the development of the US, which resembles a free fall. The graph the report presents is dramatic, but of course the score is not so. The one thing I find most troubling in the following graph is the arrow pointing down, which suggests to me the fall will continue.
As far as Bolivia is concerned, the authors continue with a negative evaluation of the developments in the country. Bolivia is scored at 67 of 100 possible points, where as you know 100 is most free. It is down one point from 68 in 2017.
The main reason why Bolivia is listed as decline is "due to a constitutional court ruling that abolished term limits and paved the way for President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019."
The country's report is not out yet, but you can take a look at the prior report. I expect to read many of the same things in the new report, plus an analysis of the constitutional court ruling and its developments.
Many authors have engaged the title of this post mainly to analyze why is the US' policy towards Latin America not working. While critical analysis is a desirable thing to do in order to, among other things, go forward or better (say a policy), in this topic many of the analyses seem verging on the obliviousness to real events. For that reason, an equal number of scholars have proposed new ways on which the formulation of such policy should be anchored on. This post is one more attempt at revising as well as analyzing US foreign policy towards Latin America and proposing a "new" approach, which, in my opinion, is necessary already.
Scholars of foreign policy or international relations like to start revisiting the Monroe Doctrine when thinking about US policy towards its more southern neighbors. For it was in 1823, as President James Monroe gave his annual state of the union speech that he formulated what later would become a fundamental piece of US foreign policy and relations. So fundamental, that even President Reagan referred to it during his presidency and the presidents thereafter did not singnificantly change.
The doctrine, written by Quincy Adams and influenced by Hamilton and others, stated that any attempt at re-colonize the newly independent countries in the Americas by European powers would be seen as a threat to the US. At the same time, the US would seek not to interfere with the remaining European colonies.
The doctrine was so fundamental because it did not only established an approach to address issues involving the Americas but also helped establish a sphere of influence beyond the borders of the United States. It recognized that the security of the US was secured when the borders of those other countries were also secure.
Since the end of the Cold War, the US government has been applying more or less the same approach in dealing with its southern neighbors. This approach involves the promotion of liberal democracy and the establishment of benefitious routes for trade. In the 1960s and 1970s and especially the 1980s, the issue of drug trafficking became one more pillar of that policy. While later on the issues of development and military cooperation also entered the formula. One issue left outside, but which has become fundamental has been the issue of migration south to north.
So every time a new president takes the oath to office in the US, latin americanists, policy analysts and the politically interested asked themselves how will the US policy towards Latin America look like during the next four years. An important question has been: does the US have a sufficiently coherent and adequately modern policy that guides its relationship with Latin America?
The short answer can be, yes, the US has had and still has one of the most coherent approaches towards the region. In fact, it is so coherent that it has not significantly changed since many decades, if not since Monroe. What has not happened is it has not been appropriately conditioned to the most recent developments in the whole region, not only within the US but also in Latin America.
How should this new approach look like?
First, the US should realize once and for all, the Latin American region has been living democracy since at least three decades. It is not the region anymore where the specter of communism was waiting to charge and take over; nor it is the region where a regime change meant a coup d'etat and military dictators were taking the reigns of government thinking they were the most fit to lead a nation.
Second, the US should think twice about continuing treating Latin America as its sphere of influence or its back yard. It should instead think of the region as its neighborhood where many countries with different cultures, ways of life and interests live.
Third, the US should think twice about concentrating heavily on the war on drugs when it deals with Latin America. I think I do not need to remind us that concentrating on one or few issues not only reduces alternatives but tends to simplify what otherwise would be a complex matter. Instead it should approach the region on the basis of a complex relationship with many sides, one of them being the war on drugs. Other important issues of this new era would be migration, financial integration, renewable energy, traditional energy, security, environment, etc.
Fourth, the US should realize that, while the focus on trade is the right thing to do, the emphasis on getting the best deal which might largely benefit one side is not beneficial. Instead, the US should realize that it is only to its benefit that the other side also benefits, and generousely. The larger benefit for the US would be strengthening a potential market of some 500 million people which might end up consuming many US products.
Fifth, the US should stop concentrating on the largest markets such as Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Instead, it should also work on strenthening smaller countries such as Ecuador, Peru or Uruguay or Bolivia, for that matter. In fact, it should try to bring to its side as many countries as possible.
Finally, the US should stop treating the countries in Latin America as if they were kids, even if many times they might behave like one. Instead, it should start treating these countries as partners, looking at them eye-to-eye, giving them the respect they are looking for around the world.
Only two changes in Evo Morales' new cabinet. Alfredo Rada, who prviously was Minister of Government and Viceminister for Social Movements Coordination, was sworn now as Minister of the Presidency. In addition, Javier Zavaleta, former La Paz deputy for MSM, was sworn as Minister for Defense. The rest of ministers were ratified.
There were many critical voices within MAS calling for the president to replace some ministers, such as the Health Minister and Minister for Culture, but it seems the president did think they were doing a good job.
Below, you will see a list of the new cabinet taken from the news agency Erbol.
The Bolivia-Chile relations have been dominated by one issue, the loss of sea access for Bolivia as a result of the pacific war of 1879 between the two countries. Ever since, Bolivia has been claiming injustice to the world for, what the country calls, an illegal usurpation of territory. To this day, Bolivia and Chile do not have diplomatic relations and do not abandon controversy and confrontation instead of talking to one another.
The latest chapter in this long-standing dispute is evolving this week, from the 19th to the 23rd, in the International Court of Justice at the Hague, Netherlands. On Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th, Bolivia had the opportunity to present its last oral arguments in the process initiated by this country against Chile back in 2013. On Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd, Chile presented its rebuttal.
What is the problem?
The core of the problem is the loss for Bolivia of sea access, which was the result of losing the war of the pacific (1879 to 1883) to Chile. While both countries have somewhat different versions of what started the war, it is possible to determine that the dispute was over taxes imposed by the Bolivian government to Chilean mines which were operating at the time in what was Bolivian-controlled territory.
The Chilean government saw this move counterproductive, and aided by foreign interests, namely by the British empire, it decided to intervene and as such declare war on Bolivia and Peru.
The war lasted some four years. Chile managed to march all the way into Lima and, in the process take control of the Bolivian Litoral department. Consequently, Bolivia formally lost control of its territory through the so called Treaty of Peace and Amity of 1904. This settled the dispute and laid down the new relations between the two countries. Among the conditions, Chile accepted to allow free access to commerce for Bolivian products in perpetuity.
What is going on in the Hague?
In 2013, Bolivia filed a lawsuit against Chile at the ICJ. After a brief counter suit by Chile asking the court to clarify its jurisdiction, the court accepted the case and ruled it was within its jurisdiction.
Since then, both Bolivia and Chile have presented their cases in oral and written forms. This time around, between the 19th and the 23rd of March, both countries have their last opportunity to present their arguments in oral form. Bolivia presented its arguments on the 19th and the 20th and Chile presented its arguments on the 22nd and 23rd of March. These will be the last chance for both countries as a final decision is expected in the next months.
Bolivia has been claiming its landlocked status has been a major factor against its economic development. The team of lawyers have made the argument that Chile, by its own conduct on the issue, has establish a record of willingness to addressing the Bolivian claim. This actions, if interpreted by the UN charter, establish legal grounds binding Chile to negotiate a solution for the Bolivian problem. In essence, Bolivia does not dispute the standing of the 1904 peace treaty but it asserts that Chile, through its conduct and actions, accepts the Bolivian issue is not resolved. Therefore, Bolivia asks the court to oblige Chile to enter negotiations in good faith with Bolivia to address its landlocked status.
Chile's main argument counters that Bolivia, with this course of action, pretends to impose a precondition for the negotiations it wants with Chile. It argues further, Bolivia is not simply seeking good-faith negotiations but rather, it is demanding a pre-commitment from Chile to an outcome of sovereign access.
The (possible) outcome
What is the most likely outcome to a dispute such as this? It is reasonable to expect the court will want to do justice to both sides. On the one side, it will want to move towards the Bolivian argument which reasonably asks for the opportunity to keep talking (even negotiating). At the same time, the court is likely to side with Chile at the moment of advising the two sides that no country is legally obliged to enter negotiations or talks expecting to cede territory to another country. The decision is most likely to be: yes both countries have to talk with one another, however it cannot be expected from Chile to enter such talks accepting to negotiate the terms for loss of sovereignty of its own territory.