Modern Political Economy and Colonialism: The Case of Bolivia

Michael Chibba

Published: September 2020

The November 2019 coup d’état in Bolivia, orchestrated by the armed forces, brought an abrupt end to President Evo Morales’s modern approach to governance and development. The coup also brought a return to colonialism or neo-colonialism. However, the elections slated for October 18, 2020, may very well restore democracy in Bolivia. In political economy, only under conditions of convergence are politics and economics fundamentally inseparable, mutually interdependent and not dichotomous. Divergence means that the opposite of convergence holds true. Colonialism had been both the dominant ideology and the governing development paradigm in Bolivia for most of the last two centuries. The long-standing status quo changed in 2005 when Morales came to power and introduced a modern (plurinational) perspective to political economy and development. His governing development paradigm included, inter alia, indigenous rights, which were thrust to prominence, to make up for years of neglect of indigenous populations. And along with this, initiatives that advanced progress, development (economic, social and political) and equality, became the new norm. While the past year saw a deterioration of democracy in Bolivia, the upcoming elections hold promise of returning Morales’s party into power and the restoration of his true legacy, which is otherwise disparaged and misrepresented by the interim government. In this article, economic and political data and analysis – especially in tabular or narrative form – provide a powerful medium to make my case.

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