"....Bolivia's problems are the maturation of neoliberal privatization policies promoted by the World Bank and the IMF... underlies the political meltdown" ("Letters." The Nation, Oct. 4, 2004: 19).

"The social movements--a host of mostly indigenous organizations representing Aymara and Quechua peasants, miners, teachers, urban community organizations, coca growers and the oldest national labor federation--are demanding nationalization of the country's massive natural gas reserves, now estimated to be the second-largest in the hemisphere... Their other plank is a constituent assembly to reformulate Bolivia's political system and give greater power to the majority indigenous population.

Throughout South America, center-left governments are taking power, with Uruguay and Ecuador being the latest to join the trend. Bolivia, home to some of the most well-organized and radical popular movements on the continent, could be next...

"Meanwhile, the right is also mobilizing. European-descended elites in the gas-rich lowland provinces of Santa Cruz and Tarija are agitating for autonomy or possible secession. The major oil companies operating in Bolivia are all threatening disinvestment if the industry is restructured. There are also rumors of a possible military coup" (Christian Parenti. "Bolivia's Battle of Wills." The Nation, July 4, 2005: 13-18).

"Indigenous candidate's win another setback to US hegemony...

"Evo Morales, the former head of a coca growers' union, was poised to become president of Bolivia this week after appearing to easily trump his political opponents. The scale of the victory, with Mr. Morales ahead with 41.1% of the vote, confounded campaign predictions...

"Mr Morales' victory is a blow to the US agenda for the region. Mr Morales is part of a trend across Latin America that has seen left-leaning governments emerge. Although each leader has pursued distinct policies, they all reject US hegemony in the region.

"Mr Morales is close to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba. He says he considers Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is also a former union leader, to be "a brother," while one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate him on his victory was Argentina's president, Nestor Kirchner" (Dan Glaister. Triumph for champion of Bolivia's poor." Guardian Weekly, Dec. 23, 2005: 10).

Colby Glass, MLIS