Leadership: Bolivia Is Back to the Brink


October 12, 2006: Having promised immediate pie-in-the-sky reforms, Bolivian President Evo Morales has begun to discover that non-delivery can have painful consequences. From an 80-percent or so approval rating in May, his popularity has fallen to only about 55-percent. Morales was elected on a platform that promised a lot to many different disgruntled elements in the country, Indians, nationalists, coca producers, separatists, socialists, and so forth. Few of the promises can be met easily. Legitimatizing coca production cannot be done by Bolivia alone, as there are international treaty issues that have to be resolved. Offering autonomy to separatist regions runs counter to those among his supporters with a strongly nationalist bent (who are also suspicious of his apparent subservience to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez). Some Bolivian political analysts give Morales only a couple of months before he may confront the sort of mass demonstrations and protest marches that sealed the fate of several of his recent predecessors in the presidency, if not an outright coup. Thus Bolivia will be back on the brink of chaos, just the situation Morales was supposed to be the cure for.




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