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Kepa Artaraz


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The election of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) to power in Bolivia in 2006 marked a historic break from centuries of foreign domination and indigenous marginalisation. Evo Morales, leader of the MAS, became the first indigenous president of Bolivia.

Kepa Artaraz looks at the Morales' government's attempt to 'refound the nation'. He shows how the mix of Marxism, indigenous liberation politics, anti-imperialism and environmentalism has made Bolivia one of the most interesting and unique political experiments of Latin America's 'red decade'.

As the historic left-turn in Latin America reaches a crossroads, this book guides us through the politics and ideas which have animated this popular movement, drawing out important lessons for progressive politics everywhere.
'A timely resource for navigating the complex politics of contemporary Bolivia'
Benjamin Dangl, author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia (2011) and Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (2010).

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
Acknowledgements vii
Acronyms and abbreviations ix
Map of Bolivia xiii
Introduction. Bolivia: Refounding the nation 1
1. The economic birth pains of poor countries 13
Five hundred years of plunder? 14
Economic liberalism reborn 19
A heavy dose of shock therapy and the bitter pill of structural adjustment 21
The deepening of the neoliberal project 24
The Latin American turn to the left 30
2. Political failures and political revival 32
The frustrated expectations of the transition to democratic rule: the view from below 34
The frustrated expectations of the transition to democratic rule: the view from above 40
MAS: an alternative political movement 43
A revolutionary period: three key moments 49
Towards the 2005 victory 52
3. Revolution in democracy? 55
Demanding recognition: the marches for territory and dignity 56
A revolution in democracy or a revolutionary form of democracy? 63
Main pillars of the new Bolivian constitution 73
The challenges ahead 75
4. New politics: in search of a working relationship between the state and civil society 78
The failure of old politics 80
The emergence of alternative political actors 82
Complexity and contradictions in the relationship between the state and civil society 92
Towards a new polity 98
5. New citizens, welfare and well-being 101
United in diversity 103
Suma qamaña, or an indigenous understanding of ‘living well’ 109
Welfare, well-being and the role of the state 111
Living well and anti-poverty cash transfers 114
Towards a new definition of the good society 118
6. New economics: the promise and the limits of post-neoliberal development 120
Towards a new national productive economic model 123
A story of success? 128
The limits of post-neoliberal development 133
7. Bolivian–US relations: breaking the stranglehold 139
A history of imperialist relations 141
The transition to democracy and the war on drugs 145
Fighting the process of change 148
Unchanging relations and frustrated expectations 151
The end of the Monroe Doctrine? 154
8. Bolivia’s place in Latin America 158
A Latin American bloc? 159
The emergence of UNASUR 161
A post-neoliberal paradigm 166
ALBA and Bolivia’s social policy 169
ALBA: the future of South–South collaboration? 173
9. The promise and the limits of a revolution in democracy 177
A bottom-up process of change 179
Obstacles on the path of national rebirth 181
A new direction of travel? 183
Conclusion 188
Notes 191
Index 229