Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in the region,
but good economic growth and social programs have reduced
the gaps in society since the 1990s and pushed poverty down.
Doubling GDP/capita and targeted support efforts to the
most vulnerable has improved the situation. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of BOL and acronym for Bolivia.
Parents get paid for letting their children go to school,
pregnant women get compensation if they visit maternity care
and poor elderly get a pension.
However, half of the population is still estimated to
live below the national poverty line. The country's
indigenous people dominate the poorest groups and generally
have poorer health, shorter life expectancy, lower incomes
and poorer education than the average population.
In August, Bolivia and Peru signed an agreement to open
Bolivian gas exports through a Peruvian port. Presidents
Carlos Mesa and Alejandro Toledo signed a "letter of intent"
in Lima to form the basis for further cooperation. The
agreement should be economically advantageous for both
countries. Bolivia has the second largest gas reserves in
South America - after Venezuela - and seeks to sell energy
on the world market.
In October, thousands of peasants marched against La Paz
demanding that ex-president Sánchez de Lozada be brought to
justice as responsible for the killing of 78 protesters
during the "gas war" in 2003. Protesters demanded the
country's oil and gas nationalized. The march took place
after a parliamentary commission recommended parliament to
authorize a lawsuit against Lozada, Defense Secretary Carlos
Sánchez and Interior Minister Yerko Kukoc, who were jointly
responsible for the repression during the "gas war".
In January 2005, MAS leader Evo Morales was charged with
receiving money from Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez.
Morales admitted that Chávez supported him politically and
inspired him to fight the "United States Empire" but
declined to receive financial assistance.
2005 Evo Morales takes over the presidential post
In June, Mesa abandoned the post of president after four
weeks of extensive protests in favor of nationalizing the
oil and regional autonomy. Already in March he had offered
to resign for the first time after growing protests.
Demonstrations had reached a level in June when the staff of
the presidential palace Quemado in La Paz was evacuated.
Mesa's immediate successors to the presidential post,
Congress President Hormando Vaca Díez and chairman of the
Chamber of Deputies Mario Cossío, both declined to take over
the post. Supreme Court President Eduardo Rodríguez
therefore took office as president. However, political
turmoil continued and in December, presidential and
parliamentary elections were held. They were big won by MAS,
who got 53.7% of the vote, thus an absolute majority in
parliament and at the same time the party's leader Evo
Morales could sit on the presidential post. This came to the
great regret of the United States, for Morales has
politically aligned himself with the left-wing governments
of Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. South America's
two main gas exporting countries are now ruled by the left,
curbing US influence in the region.
2006 Nationalization of oil and gas
In his May 1, 2006 speech, Morales stated that Bolivia is
nationalizing its oil and gas deposits. Or rather, the
foreign oil and gas companies were given a deadline to
negotiate new terms in place, partly to ensure that
Bolivia's oil and gas is sold through the country's own oil
and gas company, and the state secures at least 80% of the
revenue. The move particularly affects the Brazilian oil
company, but also other foreign companies. In Denmark,
«Development Minister» Ulla Třrnćs threatens to interrupt
the assistance to Bolivia. Morales merely wants to ensure
that the country's wealth remains in Bolivia, which is today
the second-poorest country in the continent, despite the
fact that for centuries foreign rulers and companies have
extracted gold, silver, tin and other minerals from the
country. Over 90% of Bolivia's people support the