Bolivia is one of the richest countries in natural resources and cultural diversity in the world; between its ecological segments or stages there are a variety of flora, fauna, minerals, oil, natural gas, gold, lithium, precious stones, etc, but unfortunately Bolivia is the poorest countries in the Americas in human resources.
Bolivia was born in the Spanish colonial period first as a silver exporter, then as a gold exporter. It experienced a rubber boom in the middle of the nineteenth century, the tin boom in the early twentieth century, a brief hydrocarbon boom in the 1960s and 1970s, a coca boom in the 1980s, a natural gas boom in the 1990s, and currently a lithium boom.
According to the World Bank, the illiterate rate in Bolivia is very high (approximately 65% of its population is functional illiterate), its infrastructure is obsolete, and its health service is free but highly inefficient.
Since its independence Bolivia has been unstable politically and economically; the country had many coup d’états during its post-independence life. Most of the coups were made by the military. Without exception, Bolivian governments since independence have been chronically corrupt and despotic. Nepotism has been the common denominator of all Bolivian governments in power. For example, 1980 was especially dark for Bolivia’s history, the military government of the time was involved in drug trafficking on a very large scale; a minister of the interior of that government was found by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) dealing cocaine in industrial quantities internationally.
The main goal for all Bolivian politicians has been to steal as much as they can during their four or five years in power, because they know that they are not going to be re-elected in the near future.
In Bolivia there are more than 20 active parties at any given time, many of which are militant, others are severely idealist, representing a great variety of ideologies including different definitions of democracy, communism, capitalism, fascism, Nazism, and others in between.
As I pointed out, the military has been very involved in Bolivia’s politics throughout its entire history, not only doing coup d’états between them, but having been used by various parties to stage coups, keep public order, and squelch members of the opposition. With the existence of so many different parties of varying ideologies, a single party rarely holds a majority position in the public eye, or during elections.
The Bolivian political campaigns themselves are very chaotic; it becomes a verbal and sometimes a physical fight between political adversaries. For example, the followers of the political parties in campaign paint billboards on private houses’ walls with advertising of their respective political parties. They do not have any respect whatsoever for the private property.
Bolivian journalism is not impartial; consequently it is very difficult to read unbiased news. Bolivian journalists work for private mass media or for the government in power. A typical Bolivian citizen does not buy newspaper; a newspaper costs half of a dollar, and considering that the majority of Bolivians live just with two dollars per day, we can understand why Bolivians do not buy (read) newspapers, but most of them listen and/or watch private and public radio and TV stations.
The results of the political unrest and the economic mismanagement were shown in the highest hyperinflation in world’s economic history; in 1984 and ‘85 Bolivia had a hyperinflation rate of 24,000%–even higher than the German hyperinflation of 1923. The Bolivian government was bankrupt. It could not service its foreign debts owed to international banks and to foreign governments, and had, in fact, suspended payments more than a year earlier.
Currently the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, is a functional illiterate indigenous (he holds a high school standing) and was cocalero (coca cultivator). Before the national elections, Evo Morales did not participate in any public political debates, but he won the elections any way. He was elected president of Bolivia in 2006.
Current and former Bolivian politicians have learned extremely well how to behave once in power; usually, as soon as a political party wins the elections, they fire employees (from the outgoing government) from public offices in order to appoint people from their own political party. The president and his collaborators do not worry whether the appointees fit the (forcibly) vacancy positions; for instance, the last CEO of the state oil company was a rural teacher, who did not know anything about how to run a company.
All of the factors noted above contributed to the current economic distress and political unrest of my beautiful and unfortunate country. I think unless Bolivia has a real revolution in education, the country will be continuing taking steps backwards while other countries are taking giant steps towards a better future.