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Bolivia’s Strife Intensifies

Bolivia’s Strife Intensifies: The Autonomy Being Sought by Santa Cruz Departmental Leaders threatens Political stability

*• Huge natural gas deposits spur the politics of greed.*

*• On January 28, Santa Cruz moved one step closer to achieving self-rule, a maneuver that is rooted in Bolivia’s historical cultural divide. Others maintain that it is little more than a play by rich cruceños (residents of Santa Cruz) to evade taxes and government regulations.*

*• Carlos Mesa, 15 months into his inherited presidency, faces rising popular and congressional opposition due to his failure to address his predecessor’s hated neoliberal policies.**

*• Evo Morales, leader of the anti-neoliberal Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) political party, hedges his political bets regarding Mesa’s ability to survive in office after the Bolivian president was accused of selling out his principles.**

*• Civil strife, followed by stepped-up confrontation, cannot be ruled out.*

*Cry for Regional Autonomy Tied to Cultural Divide?* Bolivia is in grave danger of setting the stage where it could later split into two parts if an immediate diplomatic offensive is not quickly launched by the OAS and the international community. To counter this, outside observers fear that the natural gas and agriculture-rich departments of Santa Cruz and Tarija could be marching down an irreversible course that may culminate in their seceding from the Bolivian republic.


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