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Bolivia provinces could declare autonomy

Dan Grech Dec 14, 2007


Doug Krizner: Bolivia is South America’s poorest nation.
The country’s being torn apart by class and race divisions. Its first indigenous president, Evo Morales, wants to rewrite the constitution to centralize power.

But the business class is in revolt. And governors of five wealthier regions have threatened to declare autonomy the national government this weekend. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports the stage is set for violence.

Dan Grech: President Morales says the new constitution would empower once marginalized indigenous groups. But businesses in Bolivia say the proposed changes would weaken private property rights and endanger the country’s economy.

Professor Eduardo Gamarra with Florida International University says the country could be plunged into conflict as early as this weekend.

Eduardo Gamarra: One sees a country that was filled with promise just less than a decade ago now becoming very much of a country about to split at the seams.

At risk: South America’s third-largest reserve of natural gas, as well as many mining concessions.

Carlos Sanchez Berzain, a former Bolivian interior minister, says the country is hopelessly polarized: East versus west, rich versus poor, indigenous versus whites.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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