Bolivia is one of Latin America’s least industrialized countries. The home market is small and weak, and exports have traditionally been dominated by simpler industrial goods. However, refining of petroleum and natural gas has now opened a new phase in the industrial sector.
Industrial development has been hampered by poorly developed communications, high loan fees and competition from import goods and smuggling. The sector is dominated by small and medium-sized companies that manufacture textiles, foods, detergents, tobacco, leather goods, handicrafts, jewelery and wooden products. Many of these companies and industries are part of the informal, black sector of the economy.
However, from a government point of view, there is talk of an ongoing “historical” industrialization, mainly of the country’s large resources of natural gas (see also Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment).
In February 2016, the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant was inaugurated in Santa Cruz. The plant was estimated to provide 600,000 Bolivians who did not have access to gas via pipelines access to the fuel. Opportunities were also opened for the sale of refined products such as gasoline, ethane, butane and propane for export abroad.
The following year a petrochemical plant was also opened in Cochabamba, for the production of urea (urea) and ammonia, which is used in fertilizers.
Elections will be held in September
Both chambers in the Legislative Assembly approve a proposal that the postponed election be held on September 6. This happens after the election tribunal has agreed with the political parties on the date. The election would have been held in May but postponed due to the corona pandemic. So far, Bolivia has been relatively spared from infection. The number of confirmed cases is 15,000 and the number of deaths in covid-19 is less than 500.
The Minister of Health is arrested in corona scandal
Health Minister Marcelo Navajas is arrested by police in La Paz, suspected of corruption linked to overpricing of respirators. Two other employees of the Ministry of Health are also arrested, and Navajas is dismissed by President Jeanine Áñez. The day before, she ordered an investigation into the respirator business. The scandal concerns 179 respirators purchased from overseas for close to $ 5 million, money that the Inter-American Development Bank has donated. It has since been found that the manufacturer sold respirators for less than half the price. In addition, doctors believe that the respirators do not fit in the Bolivian intensive care units. Around 4,500 cases of coronary infection have been reported in Bolivia and 190 people have been confirmed deceased in covid-19.
The choice is postponed due to corona, curfew is introduced
The electoral authority decides to postpone the election that would have been held in May, indefinitely, due to the ongoing corona pandemic. Most presidential candidates in the election had already advocated postponing the election. Acting President Jeanine Áñez announces the introduction of a nationwide curfew. This means that only one person per family is allowed to go out, and only to carry out the necessary tasks. Only vehicles used for the transport of goods are allowed on the streets. The borders were closed the day before. Only a few cases of coronary infection have so far been detected in Bolivia.
Former Rural Development Minister César Cocarico is arrested, charged with abuse of power during his time in the former MAS government. Cocarico, who was also governor of La Paz, is the second former MAS minister to be arrested. In January, former Interior Minister Carlos Romero was arrested. Dozens of people connected to the deposed government are at risk of being arrested. Three former ministers – Juan Ramón Quintana, Vilma Alanoca and Javier Zabaleta – have been charged with insurgency and terrorism, and have remained at the Mexican embassy since November.
Arce approved, Morales disqualified
The Supreme Court of Justice (TSE) announces that Luis Arce is approved as presidential candidate for the Socialist Party MAS, while former President Evo Morales is disqualified from participating in the Senate elections held simultaneously, in May. As a reason, it is stated that Morales, who lives on a national flight in Argentina, does not meet the requirements as to where he lives.
Try to form an alliance with MAS
Right-wing candidate Luis Fernando Camacho calls for cooperation with other presidential candidates to defeat the Socialist Party MAS in the May presidential election. Camacho and the six other middle or right-wing candidates have already made an effort to end up behind a single candidate, without success. Opinion polls indicate that MAS candidate Luis Arce may already win in the first round, as 40 percent of the vote is enough if you also have a 10 percentage point lead before the second. However, Arce’s candidacy has not yet been approved by the Electoral Tribunal.
The electoral movement begins formally
The electoral movement ahead of the extra elections to be held on May 3 will formally begin at the same time as the deadline expires to register as a candidate in the presidential and parliamentary elections. At the last moment, former President Evo Morales, as candidate for Senate, signs up for the Cochabamba Department. He has been explicitly banned from running for president and is still on the run in Argentina. Despite the arrest warrant issued for him, Morales has said he plans to return to Bolivia to take part in the election campaign. Eight candidates have registered as presidential candidates: Luis Arce for the former MAS government, incumbent President Jeanine Añez, former President Carlos Mesa (who was Morale’s closest challenger in 2019), right-hander Luis Fernando Camacho, who led the Morales uprising,evangelical pastor Chi Hyun Chung, mining leader Feliciano Mamani and retired General Ismael Schabib.
MAS candidate returns to Bolivia
The Socialist Party MAS candidate in the May presidential election, Luis Arce, returns from his voluntary exile (see December 6, 2019). Arce is already being summoned to court at the airport. He is accused of, among other things, embezzlement during his time as finance minister in the government of Evo Morale.
“Pact against MAS”
Transitional President Jeanine Añez appoints three new ministers and at the same time calls on all conservative forces to form a pact to defeat the ousted President Evo Morale’s party of MAS in the upcoming presidential election. A few days earlier, Añez called on all 20 people in the government to resign after Minister of Communications Roxana Lizarraga resigned in protest against Añez’s decision to stand in the presidential election. Lizarraga protested that Añez was about to end up in the same “evil” as MAS.
The transition president is running for election
Interim President Jeanine Añez announces that she will run in the May 3 presidential election. Añez has previously said she would not take part in the elections, but now states that she changed because of the divided opposition to the ousted President Evo Morales party MAS.
The relationship with Cuba is broken
The government interrupts diplomatic relations with Cuba, which has long been allied with Bolivia. Already, President Añez has ordered over 700 doctors and others to leave the country, people who have been part of Cuba’s medical aid work. The government has also severed relations with Venezuela and its socialist president Nicolás Maduro, and Bolivia has instead joined the countries that recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president.
Morale’s departure is approved by the MAS-controlled ward
Parliament approves the resignation of former President Evo Morales, two months after he fled the country. This happens after a chaotic debate in the Assembly, which is dominated by Morale’s party MAS, the day before his last term in office would have expired. Parliament’s approval of the president’s resignation is actually required by the Constitution, but nevertheless, the Constitutional Court approved Jeanine Añez as transitional president (see November 12, 2019). Añez’s comrades in Parliament call the approval now irrelevant. Morales has said on several occasions that he considers himself president until Parliament accepts his resignation.