Development since the democratization of speech
In 1985, the first democratic change of government in 21 years brought Paz Estenssoro and the now moderate reformist MNR (opposing candidate: Exdiktator Banzer Suárez, Acción Democrática Nacionalista [ADN]) to the presidential palace. In his fourth term of office, he tried to avert the impending national bankruptcy through a tough restructuring program (including reducing subsidies for food and gasoline, freezing wages, privatizing state-owned companies). He met the resistance of the COB by declaring a state of emergency. As a result of the Nueva Política Económica (German New Economic Policy), the economy gradually recovered from 1986.
No candidate obtained an absolute majority in the 1989 presidential election. The Parliament elected J. Paz Zamora (Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria, MIR) as President. Under his reign, the country achieved a noticeable improvement in exports and economic growth. With Peru, Bolivia concluded a treaty on a free trade zone and rights of use for the port of Ilo in 1992; the country thus regained access to the Pacific for the first time since 1879. Visit ezinesports.com for Bolivia as a tourist country.
In 1993, power returned to the MNR with its candidate G. Sánchez de Lozada in the presidential elections. For the first time in the history of the country, he appointed a member of the indigenous population to a high government office ( Víctor Hugo Cárdenas [* 1951] as Vice President). Sánchez de Lozada continued the privatization policy and carried out far-reaching reforms of the financial and educational policy as well as the judiciary. He strengthened the political participation of the population at the local level through the introduction of the Participación Popular (German Volksbeteiligung), decentralized the administration and the decision about the communal finances.
After several unsuccessful attempts, exdictator Banzer Suárez succeeded in 1997 in democratic elections through a multi-party alliance by parliament to be elected president. After initial stabilization through a national dialogue and international financial cooperation, economic growth again declined sharply from 1999 onwards. Serious unrest (»water war« in April 2000) proved that Bolivia’s social problems persisted. On August 6, 2001, Banzer Suárez resigned in favor of Vice President Jorge Quiroga Ramírez (* 1960) return. The agenda of the Quiroga Ramírez government was dominated by anti-drug policies, escalation of violence in coca-growing areas, week-long teacher strikes, protest marches by indigenous organizations and negotiations over the export of natural gas.
The elections in June 2002 were won by the MNR with Sánchez de Lozada, closely followed by the MAS with the leader of the organized coca planters E. Morales . In the runoff election in parliament in August 2002, Sánchez de Lozada won through with an alliance of MNR and MIR. To overcome the severe economic crisis, the new president announced an emergency program which, in addition to combating unemployment and corruption, included reducing the budget deficit through rigorous austerity measures. Violent unrest broke out in February 2003 as a result of announced tax increases and in autumn 2003 because of plans to export natural gas to the United States via Chile. President Sánchez de Lozadaresigned after protests and riots with over 80 dead and many injured on October 17, 2003.
His successor was Vice President Carlos Mesa Gisbert (* 1953), who formed a transitional government and announced new elections. The focus of government activities was the referendum on natural gas exports on July 19, 2004, the result of which was backing for Mesa Gisbert’s energy policy. In the Organization of American States, Bolivia demanded the return of the sea access lost in the Saltpeter War on the occasion of the treaties concluded 100 years ago (October 20, 1904). After a wave of roadblocks and protests, Gisbert resigned in May 2005. The elections organized by the transitional government under Eduardo Rodríguez (* 1956) on December 18, 2005 were won by E. Morales for the first time a representative of the indigenous population.
Following the example of H. Chávez in Venezuela, he suggested fundamental reforms (nationalization of the oil and gas industry on May 1, 2006) and a “re-establishment” of the state.
The constituent assembly set up in August 2006 presented a new constitution on December 14, 2007. In the period that followed, the leaders of the economically strong departments of the Bolivian lowlands opposed the president’s political course and tried to gain more autonomy. To resolve the conflict, Morales faced a referendum in August 2008, in which he was confirmed in office. At the same time, the governors of the lowland departments, who were critical of the government, also received popular support. The indecisive balance of power led to violent unrest in the first half of September 2008.